Ford recalls 462,000 SUVs over rearview camera issue

Ford has issued a recall for 462,000 vehicles worldwide over the possibility that their rearview cameras could suffer from faulty video output. According to the Associated Press and Reuters, the recall covers some 2020 to 2023 model Ford Explorers and Lincoln Aviators, as well as a bunch of 2020 to 2022 model Lincoln Corsairs. The affected vehicles come with 360-degree cameras that display live view footage on the in-car entertainment touchscreen console. The majority of the affected cars — over 382,000 — are in the US. 

According to a document (PDF) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the agency contacted Ford in late 2021 about allegations that the live view camera was showing a blue image instead of what was happening outside. That came after an earlier recall in 2021 for the same problem. Ford worked with suppliers to analyze those reports, but it wasn’t until December 2022 that the automaker was able to replicate the issue in the laboratory and in-vehicle, which is most likely why Ford has only issued a recall now. 

Apparently, 2,115 warranty reports had been submitted about this issue as of November 30th, 2022. Also, the automaker is aware of 17 minor accidents that allegedly occurred due to the vehicles’ rear camera blue screen problem, but it hasn’t heard of any injuries. Reuters said even the vehicles that were recalled in 2021 are part of this recall, so dealers can also update their image processing module software.



Source: Engadget – Ford recalls 462,000 SUVs over rearview camera issue

The Best Way to Clean Your Laptop's Keyboard

As you’re probably well aware, your laptop keyboard is super gross—even if you’ve cleaned it relatively recently. The crumbs, dust, dirt, spills, and oils from your fingers accumulate surprisingly quickly, and can turn into a layer of grimy film.

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Source: LifeHacker – The Best Way to Clean Your Laptop’s Keyboard

How a Microsoft Cloud Outage Hit Millions of Users Around the World

An anonymous reader shares Reuters’ report from earlier this week:

Microsoft Corp said on Wednesday it had recovered all of its cloud services after a networking outage took down its cloud platform Azure along with services such as Teams and Outlook used by millions around the globe. Azure’s status page showed services were impacted in Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Only services in China and its platform for governments were not hit. By late morning Azure said most customers should have seen services resume after a full recovery of the Microsoft Wide Area Network (WAN).

An outage of Azure, which has 15 million corporate customers and over 500 million active users, according to Microsoft data, can impact multiple services and create a domino effect as almost all of the world’s largest companies use the platform…. Microsoft did not disclose the number of users affected by the disruption, but data from outage tracking website Downdetector showed thousands of incidents across continents…. Azure’s share of the cloud computing market rose to 30% in 2022, trailing Amazon’s AWS, according to estimates from BofA Global Research…. During the outage, users faced problems in exchanging messages, joining calls or using any features of Teams application. Many users took to Twitter to share updates about the service disruption, with #MicrosoftTeams trending as a hashtag on the social media site…. Among the other services affected were Microsoft Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, according to the company’s status page.

“I think there is a very big debate to be had on resiliency in the comms and cloud space and the critical applications,” Symphony Chief Executive Brad Levy said.

From Microsoft’s [preliminary] post-incident review:
We determined that a change made to the Microsoft Wide Area Network (WAN) impacted connectivity between clients on the internet to Azure, connectivity across regions, as well as cross-premises connectivity via ExpressRoute.

As part of a planned change to update the IP address on a WAN router, a command given to the router caused it to send messages to all other routers in the WAN, which resulted in all of them recomputing their adjacency and forwarding tables. During this re-computation process, the routers were unable to correctly forward packets traversing them. The command that caused the issue has different behaviors on different network devices, and the command had not been vetted using our full qualification process on the router on which it was executed….

Due to the WAN impact, our automated systems for maintaining the health of the WAN were paused, including the systems for identifying and removing unhealthy devices, and the traffic engineering system for optimizing the flow of data across the network. Due to the pause in these systems, some paths in the network experienced increased packet loss from 09:35 UTC until those systems were manually restarted, restoring the WAN to optimal operating conditions. This recovery was completed at 12:43 UTC.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



Source: Slashdot – How a Microsoft Cloud Outage Hit Millions of Users Around the World

Amazon Wants to Make Lara Croft Into a Tomb Raider Universe

Yesterday, the news broke that Phoebe Waller-Bridge was creating a TV adaptation for Crystal Dynamics’ long-running Tomb Runner franchise for Prime Video. On its own, that information wouldn’t be terribly surprising; Amazon’s making a habit of adapting things, and we’re in a period where any and every game seems up to…

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Source: Gizmodo – Amazon Wants to Make Lara Croft Into a Tomb Raider Universe

The weekend’s best deals: Apple computers, Kindles, 4K TVs, charging cables, and more.

The weekend’s best deals: Apple computers, Kindles, 4K TVs, charging cables, and more.

Enlarge

Another weekend, another Dealmaster. In this week’s roundup of the best tech deals on the web, we have deals on a range of Apple computers―desktops and laptops alike. Co-headlining the Apple computer sale are the just-released 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros and the 2021 iMac.

We recently reviewed the new MacBooks and dubbed them “the best laptop[s] you can buy today by almost any measure.” Aimed at power users who demand muscular performance and easy, varied, built-in port selection, the 2023 MacBook Pros only improved on an already impressive pair of laptops in the previous generation. If you already have one of those, there’s no pressing need to upgrade. However, if you were on the fence or waiting for the next generation, you can snag the new laptops for $50 off full retail price and gain even more improved M2-Pro-powered chips.

Also on sale is the 2021 iMac. Perhaps most easily thought of as a MacBook Air in all-in-one desktop form, it provides plenty power for most users. It’s not the Mac you want if you’re going to be gaming, editing video, or creating much beyond documents. Still, it’s a good-looking, nostalgic, simple, albeit brightly-colored desktop computer that will absolutely crush Zoom calls with great audio and video capture, and look good doing it. With a $150 discount, the iMac is a bit more attractive at $1,099 than its typical $1,250 price.

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Source: Ars Technica – The weekend’s best deals: Apple computers, Kindles, 4K TVs, charging cables, and more.

Mac mini review (M2 Pro, 2023): Just call it a Mac mini Pro

Since the Mac mini’s debut in 2005, it’s been Apple’s affordable small form factor trooper. Need something cheap to pair with an old monitor? Just get the Mac mini! Want to start a low-power media server, or a computer right near your TV? Mini, baby. The line has had its share of ups and downs — the 2014 refresh was criticized for replacing a quad-core model with a dual-core chip, the 2018 update had notoriously weak graphics — but it made a full recovery with the M1-powered model in 2021.

This year, though, the Mac mini is different. The $599 model remains an entry-level champ, especially since it’s $100 less than the M1 version (maybe we’ll see the $499 option return eventually). But you can also pay over double that — $1,299! — for a Mini with a slightly stripped down M2 Pro chip and 16GB of RAM. That might have sounded crazy a few years ago, but now it sits neatly into Apple’s desktop ecosystem. Not all creatives need the power of a $1,999 Mac Studio with an M1 Max, but those same folks may feel limited by the base M2 chip. At last, there’s a mighty Mini to serve them. (And no, the now-dead $1,099 Intel model never really filled that role.)

Just like with Apple’s new MacBook Pros, the Mac mini doesn’t look any different than before. It’s still a squat little aluminum box with a ton of ports on the back, and a slightly raised black base underneath to allow for airflow. The $599 model features an M2 chip with eight CPU cores, 10 graphics cores, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage — that’s about as basic as you can get with PC hardware these days. The $1,299 M2 Pro Mini offers 10 CPU cores, 16 GPU cores, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. For an additional $300, you can also upgrade to the full-powered M2 Pro chip with a 12-core CPU and 19-core GPU (but that’s probably not a wise idea, as I’ll discuss later).

On the rear, the base Mac mini offers two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C connections, HDMI 2.0 (with 4K 240Hz and 8K 60Hz output), two USB-A ports, a headphone jack and gigabit Ethernet (upgradeable to 10 gigabit). The M2 Pro model adds two additional USB-C ports, making it even more useful for creatives with a ton of accessories.

Apple Mac Mini with M2 Pro rear ports
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Most striking about the Mac mini is its combination of simplicity and functionality. Unlike the taller and more domineering Mac Studio, the Mini is meant to disappear into your desk, a sliver of power that doesn’t need to be seen. That could be a bad thing if you need to access its rear ports frequently, though. The Studio, in comparison, offers two USB-C ports and an SD card slot up front. You’ll need a separate adapter to use SD cards with the Mini — a cheap fix, but one that also leads to more desk clutter.

Our review model, which featured the pricier 12-core M2 Pro chip, performed as well as I expected. It’s slower than the M2 Max in the 14-inch MacBook Pro in GeekBench’s CPU benchmark, but it also beats the M1 Max in the Mac Studio. The M1 Ultra-equipped Studio is far faster, not surprisingly, because that’s essentially two M1 Max chips joined together. What’s most important for some creatives though is its potential rendering performance. The Mac Mini scored 2,000 points higher than the M1 Max Studio in the Cinebench R23 benchmark, and it was on-par with the MacBook Pro 14-inch with M2 Max.

None

Geekbench 5 CPU

Geekbench 5 Compute

Cinebench R23

3DMark Wildlife Extreme

Apple Mac Mini (Apple M2 Pro, 2022)

1,826/13,155

43,241

1,647/14,598

12,769

Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch (Apple M2 Max, 2023)

1,970/15,338

71,583

1,603/14,725

18 ,487

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch, (Apple M2, 2022)

1,938/8,984

27,304

1,583/8,719

6,767

Apple Mac Studio (Apple M1 Max)

1,715/12,642

61,412

1,534/12,314

10,017

Apple Mac Studio (Apple M1 Ultra)

1,785/23,942

85,800

1,537/24,078

10,020

In a more practical test, the Mac Mini transcoded a minute-long 4K clip into 1080p in 37 seconds with pure CPU power using Handbrake — the same job took 32 seconds with the GPU. Both figures narrowly surpassed the M1 Max Studio, which took 43 seconds with a CPU encode and 34 seconds using the GPU.

Beyond benchmarks, the Mac Mini was an absolute dream for my typical workflow (dealing with dozens of browser tabs, batch image processing, and practically every chat app out there). But I’d expect a similar result from the $599 model, so long as I cut down on demanding browsers to survive with 8GB of RAM. The computer remains a solid entry for mainstream users, and it’s potentially a great home theater PC if you wanted something more customizable than an Apple TV.

Apple Mac Mini with M2 Pro desk setup with Apple Studio Display

As I tested the Mac Mini, I started to wonder if it was even worth having a giant mid-tower PC as my daily driver. Realistically, though, I could never become a fulltime Mac guy because I like games. There are a few modern titles like Resident Evil Village that natively support Macs, but there simply aren’t enough titles out there. That game, by the way, easily reached 60fps while playing in 1,440p on the Mac Mini.

To reiterate, though, you’d have to pay $1,599 for the upgraded M2 Pro to get the same performance figures. I didn’t have the slower Mac Pro model to compare it to, but based on what we’re seeing with Apple’s M2 chips, it would still be a noticeable step up from comparable M1 hardware. Stepping back a bit, I can’t help but think that the $1,299 M2 Pro Mini makes more sense for creatives. If you upgraded our review model to 32GB of RAM, it would come to the same $1,999 as the base Mac Studio. And given that the Studio is almost a year old, it’s due for an M2 refresh in the coming months. 

Apple Mac Mini with M2 Pro
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

My advice? Get the $1,299 Mac mini if you’re looking for a beefier Mac desktop, but try to avoid upgrading any hardware if possible. I could see stomaching the $200 upcharge to get 1TB of storage, but spending an additional $400 just to get 32GB of RAM isn’t worth it. Apple has always been notorious for expensive upgrades — remember the $999 monitor stand? — let’s not encourage them.

Apple might as well have just called this computer the Mac mini Pro – but I can see how that would have been confusing. Now the Mini exists in two forms: A cheap computer for most people, and a secret powerhouse for creators. It’s close to being the ideal small-form factor PC, if only it didn’t cost so much to get more RAM.



Source: Engadget – Mac mini review (M2 Pro, 2023): Just call it a Mac mini Pro

Here Are Yelp's Top 100 U.S. Restaurants This Year

Yelp released this year’s Top 100 U.S. Restaurants list according to user’s ratings. We’re not going to lie—we’re a little shocked one city near and dear to us didn’t have a single restaurant on this list. (ahem, New York City). Click through for some dining out inspo or to see if there are any restaurants near you…

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Source: Gizmodo – Here Are Yelp’s Top 100 U.S. Restaurants This Year

Check These Spots in Your House for Hidden Mold

When you clean your home, you probably have it down to some type of routine: Tidying up and wiping down set spots in each room. But if that’s the case, it means that you might be missing some hidden mold growth. Here are the spots you should check on a regular basis to make sure that’s not happening.

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Source: LifeHacker – Check These Spots in Your House for Hidden Mold

Like users, app developers are fleeing Twitter for Mastodon

When Twitter quietly updated its developer policies to ban third-party clients from its platform, it abruptly closed an important chapter of Twitter’s history. Unlike most of its counterparts, which tightly control what developers are able to access, Twitter has a long history with independent app makers.

Now, the developers of some Twitter clients are turning their attention to another upstart platform: Mastodon. This week, Tapbots, the studio behind Tweebot, released Ivory, a Mastodon client based on its longtime Twitter app. Matteo Villa, the developer behind Twitter app Fenix, is testing a Mastodon client of his own called Wooly. Junyu Kuang, the indie developer behind Twitter client Spring is working on a Mastodon app called Mona. Shihab Mehboob, developer of Twitter app Aviary, is close to launching a Mastodon client called Mammoth.

The one-time Twitter developers join a growing group of independent app makers who have embraced Mastodon, the open-source social network that’s seen explosive growth since Elon Musk took over Twitter. The decentralized service now has more than 1.5 million users across nearly 10,000 servers. That, coupled with Mastodon’s open-source, “API-first” approach, has attracted dozens of developers eager to put their own spin on the service.

A screenshot from Mastodon's website showing 22 different clients made by third-party developers.
Mastodon

Paul Haddad, one of the developers behind Tweetbot and Ivory, says Tapbots started working on a Mastodon client late last year as they started to grow nervous about the future of Twitter’s developer platform.

“They [Twitter] had absolutely been making huge strides and opening up their API platform, but clients like ours were always going to be second- or third-class citizens,” says Haddad. “Whereas with Mastodon, that’s absolutely not the case.”

Thomas Ricouard, the developer behind Ice Cubes, a Mastodon app that launched earlier this month, says that he had considered building an app with Twitter’s API in the past, but decided against it because it was “looking more and more limited as the days passed.” At the same time, he says he noticed fewer and fewer familiar faces on his Twitter timeline. “Loving open source software,” he says, “I quickly saw the opportunity [for Mastodon].”

Ice Cubes launched in the App Store January 19th, and it has already won the praise of reviewers and has dozens of contributors on GitHub. Even Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, who has been more active on Mastodon lately, uses the app.

On its part, Mastodon has welcomed developer interest even though it maintains its own mobile apps. “It’s exciting because it means that a lot of very talented people are investing their time and resources into building on the platform and ecosystem that we have built up,” Mastodon founder and CEO Eugen Rochko tells Engadget. “Third party applications are incredibly valuable for a platform because that’s where the power users go … it benefits everybody because the power users are the people who create the content that everybody reads.”

Developers’ contributions also have the potential to influence the direction of the platform itself. Just as Twitter’s earliest developers had an outsize impact on the service, some developers now see an opportunity to similarly influence Mastodon.

Both Ricouard and Haddad noted that official Mastodon apps currently don’t support quoting — the Mastodon equivalent of a quote tweet — but some clients, like Ice Cubes and Mona, do. “I think the client developers are able to implement that feature within the app, we’re probably going to push it to go higher up on the radar of the Mastodon server developers,” Haddad predicts. Mastodon so far hasn’t publicly committed to adding quotes but Rochko, who was once adamantly against the feature, recently said he’s considering it.

Mastodon developers have experimented with other unique additions, too. Ice Cubes has Chat GPT-powered prompts that will spice up the text of your post (or “toot” as they are known to longtime Mastodon users). Wooly groups notifications in batches, similar to Twitter. Tapbots is working on a Mac app that will sync with Ivory’s iOS app, much like Tweetbot did across platforms.

“Mastodon is in the [same] early phase Twitter was, where third party apps will have a big impact on the future product focus and development,” says Ricouard.

Rochko says that while he’s happy to see the growing number of Mastodon clients, he’s not in a hurry to try to replicate their features. Mastodon is still a nonprofit with a small team and a lengthy product roadmap. “It’s definitely interesting to see different ideas tested out and experimented with and I think that long term, there’s probably going to be influence over the official apps,” he says.

Still, not every former Twitter client developer is eager to start over on Mastodon. “I’m not sure if I want to create a Mastodon app but you should definitely check out those other developers who have,” Tweetings said in a farewell post on Twitter. Twitterrific’s developers are also unsure if Mastodon fits into their future plans.

Much will likely depend on if Mastodon is able to maintain its current growth and continue to attract new users. And as much as many former Twitter users see it as a replacement, Mastodon is structured very differently, and not everyone finds it as user-friendly as Twitter. Rochko, who started Mastodon in 2017, says he’s optimistic because the site continues to add influential users.

“What’s exciting to me about the latest wave of users on Mastodon is not the numbers but the who. The people who have joined from various journalist organizations, media organizations, politicians, actors, writers, and just you know, famous internet people — like the olden days.”



Source: Engadget – Like users, app developers are fleeing Twitter for Mastodon

Why This Teacher Has Adopted an Open ChatGPT Policy

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: Ethan Mollick has a message for the humans and the machines: can’t we all just get along? After all, we are now officially in an A.I. world and we’re going to have to share it, reasons the associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School. “This was a sudden change, right? There is a lot of good stuff that we are going to have to do differently, but I think we could solve the problems of how we teach people to write in a world with ChatGPT,” Mollick told NPR. […] This year, Mollick is not only allowing his students to use ChatGPT, they are required to. And he has formally adopted an A.I. policy into his syllabus for the first time.

He teaches classes in entrepreneurship and innovation, and said the early indications were the move was going great. “The truth is, I probably couldn’t have stopped them even if I didn’t require it,” Mollick said. This week he ran a session where students were asked to come up with ideas for their class project. Almost everyone had ChatGPT running and were asking it to generate projects, and then they interrogated the bot’s ideas with further prompts. “And the ideas so far are great, partially as a result of that set of interactions,” Mollick said. He readily admits he alternates between enthusiasm and anxiety about how artificial intelligence can change assessments in the classroom, but he believes educators need to move with the times. “We taught people how to do math in a world with calculators,” he said. Now the challenge is for educators to teach students how the world has changed again, and how they can adapt to that.

Mollick’s new policy states that using A.I. is an “emerging skill”; that it can be wrong and students should check its results against other sources; and that they will be responsible for any errors or omissions provided by the tool. And, perhaps most importantly, students need to acknowledge when and how they have used it. “Failure to do so is in violation of academic honesty policies,” the policy reads. […] “I think everybody is cheating … I mean, it’s happening. So what I’m asking students to do is just be honest with me,” he said. “Tell me what they use ChatGPT for, tell me what they used as prompts to get it to do what they want, and that’s all I’m asking from them. We’re in a world where this is happening, but now it’s just going to be at an even grander scale.” “I don’t think human nature changes as a result of ChatGPT. I think capability did.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



Source: Slashdot – Why This Teacher Has Adopted an Open ChatGPT Policy

7 Ways the Hive Ransomware Gang Caused Mayhem Before It Got Pwned by the FBI

Via a sophisticated “cyber stakeout,” the FBI pwned Hive, one of the most prolific and dangerous ransomware gangs on the web. While little is known about who is behind Hive or where the gang’s core members are located, we know one thing for sure: these guys are giant douchebags. This much is obvious because Hive has…

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Source: Gizmodo – 7 Ways the Hive Ransomware Gang Caused Mayhem Before It Got Pwned by the FBI

Most criminal cryptocurrency is funneled through just 5 exchanges

A bunch of blocks

Enlarge (credit: Eugene Mymrin/Getty Images)

For years, the cryptocurrency economy has been rife with black market sales, theft, ransomware, and money laundering—despite the strange fact that in that economy, practically every transaction is written into a blockchain’s permanent, unchangeable ledger. But new evidence suggests that years of advancements in blockchain tracing and crackdowns on that illicit underworld may be having an effect—if not reducing the overall volume of crime, then at least cutting down on the number of laundering outlets, leaving the crypto black market with fewer options to cash out its proceeds than it’s had in a decade.

In a portion of its annual crime report focused on money laundering that was published today, cryptocurrency-tracing firm Chainalysis points to a new consolidation in crypto criminal cash-out services over the past year. It counted just 915 of those services used in 2022, the fewest it’s seen since 2012 and the latest sign of a steady drop-off in the number of those services since 2018. Chainalysis says an even smaller number of exchanges now enable the money-laundering trade of cryptocurrency for actual dollars, euros, and yen: It found that just five cryptocurrency exchanges now handle nearly 68 percent of all black market cash-outs.

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Source: Ars Technica – Most criminal cryptocurrency is funneled through just 5 exchanges

11 of the Sleaziest Snake Oil Ads From Trump's Truth Social

Former President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to abandon Truth Social, the destitute social media platform he created after Twitter and Facebook kicked him off their sites. But in recent months, both Twitter and Facebook have welcomed him back. That’s bad news for Truth Social which, like all social media…

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Source: Gizmodo – 11 of the Sleaziest Snake Oil Ads From Trump’s Truth Social

How to Set Up Local DNS Resolver with Unbound on Ubuntu 22.04

Unbound is free and open-source DNS server software that can be used for validating, recursive, and caching DNS resolvers. In this tutorial, you will install Unbound on Ubuntu 22.04 server and set it up as a Local DNS Server with some features enabled, such as DNSSEC, DNS cache, local domain names and sub-domains, and also DNS-over-TLS (DoT).

Source: LXer – How to Set Up Local DNS Resolver with Unbound on Ubuntu 22.04