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Bitcoin

The Disastrous Voyage of Satoshi, the World's First Cryptocurrency Cruise Ship (theguardian.com) 387

XXongo writes: The Guardian tells the story of the Satoshi, the converted cruise ship that was supposed to be the libertarian paradise, homesteading the high seas off the coast of Panama, free from rules and regulations and (most of all) taxes, with an economy run on cryptocurrency. The ship was even named "Satoshi," after the pseudonym of the nearly-mythical elder who outlined the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.

So, what went wrong? Well, turns out that it wasn't quite so simple, and in some ways the "borderless seas" are actually among the most tightly regulated locations on Earth. Even selling the ship for scrap turned out to be hard...
Security

McDonald's Leaks Password For Monopoly VIP Database To Winners (bleepingcomputer.com) 33

A bug in the McDonald's Monopoly VIP game in the United Kingdom caused the login names and passwords for the game's database to be sent to all winners. BleepingComputer reports: After skipping a year due to COVID-19, McDonald's UK launched their popular Monopoly VIP game on August 25th, where customers can enter codes found on purchase food items for a chance to win a prize. These prizes include 100,000 pounds in cash, an Ibiza villa or UK getaway holiday, Lay-Z Spa hot tubs, and more. Unfortunately, the game hit a snag over the weekend after a bug caused the user name and passwords for both the production and staging database servers to be in prize redemption emails sent to prize winners.

An unredacted screenshot of the email sent to prize winners was shared with BleepingComputer by Troy Hunt that shows an exception error, including sensitive information for the web application. This information included hostnames for Azure SQL databases and the databases' login names and passwords, as displayed in the redacted email below sent to a Monopoly VIP winner. The prize winner who shared the email with Troy Hunt said that the production server was firewalled off but that they could access the staging server using the included credentials. As these databases may have contained winning prize codes, it could have allowed an unscrupulous person to download unused game codes to claim the prizes. Luckily for McDonald's, the person responsibly disclosed the issue with McDonald's, and while they did not receive a response, they later found that the staging server's password was soon changed.

Facebook

WhatsApp Moderators Can Read Your Messages (gizmodo.com) 87

Gizmodo highlights the findings of a new ProPublica report on WhatsApp's content moderation system. What they found was that there are at least 1,000 WhatsApp content moderators employed by Facebook's moderator contract firm Accenture to review user-reported content that's been flagged by its machine learning system. "They monitor for, among other things, spam, disinformation, hate speech, potential terrorist threats, child sexual abuse material (CSAM), blackmail, and "sexually oriented businesses,'" reports Gizmodo. "Based on the content, moderators can ban the account, put the user 'on watch,' or leave it alone." From the report: Most can agree that violent imagery and CSAM should be monitored and reported; Facebook and pornhub regularly generate media scandals for not moderating enough. But WhatsApp moderators told ProPublica that the app's artificial intelligence program sends moderators an inordinate number of harmless posts, like children in bathtubs. Once the flagged content reaches them, ProPublica reports that moderators can see the last five messages in a thread.

WhatsApp discloses, in its terms of service, that when an account is reported, it "receives the most recent messages" from the reported group or user as well as "information on your recent interactions with the reported user." This does not specify that such information, viewable by moderators, could include phone numbers, profile photos, linked Facebook and Instagram accounts, their IP address, and mobile phone ID. And, the report notes, WhatsApp does not disclose the fact that it amasses all users' metadata no matter their privacy settings.

WhatsApp didn't offer much clarity on what mechanism it uses to receive decrypted messages, only that the person tapping the "report" button is automatically generating a new message between themselves and WhatsApp. That seems to indicate that WhatsApp is deploying a sort of copy-paste function, but the details are still unclear. Facebook told Gizmodo that WhatsApp can read messages because they're considered a version of direct messaging between the company and the reporter. They added that users who report content make the conscious choice to share information with Facebook; by their logic, Facebook's collection of that material doesn't conflict with end-to-end encryption. So, yes, WhatsApp can see your messages without your consent.

Patents

Unity Patents 'Methods and Apparatuses To Improve the Performance of a Video Game Engine Using An Entity Component System' (twitter.com) 46

slack_justyb writes: Unity has filed a patent with the USPTO for "Methods and apparatuses to improve the performance of a video game engine using an Entity Component System (ECS)."

ECS methods are something that some other open source game engines already use. One example is Bevy for Rust. Some are already commenting on the ramifications of this patent application and indicating that this could be a massive overstep by Unity to attempt to patent something already used by other lesser-known game engines.

The Internet

Jagex Nixes Community-Built RuneScape HD Client, Massive Backlash Follows (runescape.com) 22

New submitter Sauce Tin writes: In a blog post, Jagex announced the shutdown of a community-driven RuneScape HD graphics client. The announcement came at an inopportune time -- the community client was prepped for release this week and had been announced years beforehand, with 2,000+ hours of effort of a single individual behind it. The effort had been noticed by Jagex, however no opposition from the company was made -- until recently. Thousands of players vented on the game's subreddit, ultimately reaching the top of r/all. Jagex has had a past of infuriating its player base over the years, including the removal of free trade, PvP combat, and LGBT holiday content.
Transportation

Ford Hires Away Executive Leading Apple's Car Project (bloomberg.com) 53

Ford is hiring the head of Apple's car project away from the iPhone maker, a stunning development that brings the 118-year-old automaker an executive with Silicon Valley chops. Bloomberg reports: Doug Field is coming aboard as chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer, Ford said in a statement. Field also previously worked as a top engineer at Tesla between two stints at Apple -- most recently as a vice president in its special projects group -- and played a major role at Tesla launching the Model 3 sedan. The hire is a coup for Ford, which has made major strides under Chief Executive Officer Jim Farley in convincing investors it can compete with Tesla and others on electric vehicles and technology. Ford shares have almost doubled since Farley took over in October, after his two predecessors presided over a years-long slump.

"This is a watershed moment for our company -- Doug has accomplished so much," Farley said in a briefing with reporters. "This is just a monumental moment in time that we have now to really remake" the automaker. Apple said it's grateful for the contributions Field made and that it wishes him well at Ford. The departure marks another significant setback for Apple's automotive efforts. The company's car project has gone through several strategy and leadership shake-ups since it started to take shape around 2014.

Bitcoin

Salvador Street Protest Breaks Out Against Bitcoin Adoption (reuters.com) 75

More than 1,000 people marched in El Salvador's capital on Tuesday to protest the adoption of bitcoin as legal tender, amid a bumpy initial rollout of systems to support the digital currency. Reuters reports: The protesters burned a tire and set off fireworks in front of the Supreme Court building around noon local time, as the government deployed heavily militarized police to the site of the protest. "This is a currency that's not going to work for pupusa vendors, bus drivers or shopkeepers," said a San Salvador resident who opposed the adoption of the cryptocurrency. Pupusas are a traditional Salvadoran corn-based food. "This is a currency that's ideal for big investors who want to speculate with their economic resources."

The protest came as El Salvador's government was rushing to iron out technological snags in bitcoin's first-day rollout. Earlier on Tuesday, Salvadorans trying to download the Chivo digital wallet found it was unavailable on popular app stores. Then Bukele tweeted that the government had temporarily unplugged it, in order to connect more servers to deal with demand. A group of people in Chivo tee-shirts at a stall to train people interested in using the app milled around waiting for it to be reconnected. It later appeared on Apple and Huawei's stores, and Bukele used Twitter to ask users to let him know how it was working.
El Salvador voted to adopt bitcoin as legal tender in June. Yesterday, one day before the Bitcoin Law was put in effect, the country bought roughly $20.9 million worth of bitcoin, sending the price of the currency above $52,000 for the first time since May.
Facebook

Facebook Admits 'Trust Deficit' As It Looks To Launch Digital Wallet (axios.com) 60

Facebook says it's finally ready to launch its most ambitious new product in years: a digital wallet called Novi. But the man leading the charge says Washington could stand in its way. From a report: Facebook needs to convince regulators skeptical of its power that it's a good idea. "If there's one thing we need, it's the benefit of the doubt," Facebook's David Marcus said in an interview with Axios. "[W]e're starting with a trust deficit that we need to compensate." Much of Facebook's broader ambitions, like building a "meta-verse" and advancing its shopping platform, are tied to innovations in payments.

Marcus -- head of F2, which stands for Facebook Financial -- visited Washington last week to meet with key regulatory stakeholders about Novi, a wallet app built on blockchain technology. Crypto-based payment systems, he says, will help to "really lower the bar for accessibility to a modern financial system." He was also there to discuss the Diem Association, a group made up of 26 corporate and non-profit members that is building a blockchain-based payments system that Novi will use.

The group is meant to act as an unbiased third party that allows various digital wallets around the world to trade using the same type of digital coin, called a Diem. Marcus says Facebook is hoping to launch Novi in conjunction with Diem by years' end. While Novi is ready to launch now, it's unclear whether Diem will be ready this year, in part because it requires more regulatory buy-in. Regardless, "we plan to actually get it out (Novi) in the market this half, no matter what," he said.

Education

Howard University Announces Ransomware Attack, Shuts Down Classes On Tuesday (zdnet.com) 52

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Howard University announced on Monday that it has been hit with a ransomware attack, forcing the school to shut down classes on Tuesday, according to a statement from the prominent HBCU. The school said that on September 3, members of their technology team noticed "unusual activity" on the university's network and shut it down in order to investigate the problem. They later confirmed it was a ransomware attack but did not say which group was behind the attack.

"The situation is still being investigated, but we are writing to provide an interim update and to share as much information as we safely and possibly can at this point in time, considering that our emails are often shared within a public domain," Howard University said in a statement. "ETS and its partners have been working diligently to fully address this incident and restore operations as quickly as possible; but please consider that remediation, after an incident of this kind, is a long haul -- not an overnight solution." The school has contacted law enforcement and is working with forensic experts on the issue. They claim there is "no evidence of personal information being accessed or exfiltrated" but noted that the investigation is ongoing. The school was forced to cancel all classes on Tuesday in order to address the issue and the campus is only open to essential employees. Even the campus Wi-Fi is down. They noted that some cloud applications will remain accessible to students and that they will continue to update students and faculty at 2pm each day.

"This is a moment in time for our campus when IT security will be at its tightest. We recognize that there has to be a balance between access and security; but at this point in time, the University's response will be from a position of heightened security," the school added. "This is a highly dynamic situation, and it is our priority to protect all sensitive personal, research and clinical data. We are in contact with the FBI and the D.C. city government, and we are installing additional safety measures to further protect the University's and your personal data from any criminal ciphering. You will receive additional communications from ETS over the course of the next few hours and continuing into the next few days, especially surrounding phishing attempts and how to protect your data online beyond the Howard University community."

Medicine

New Studies Find Evidence Of 'Superhuman' Immunity To COVID-19 In Some Individuals (npr.org) 148

Some scientists have called it "superhuman immunity" or "bulletproof." But immunologist Shane Crotty prefers "hybrid immunity." "Overall, hybrid immunity to SARS-CoV-2 appears to be impressively potent," Crotty wrote in commentary in Science back in June. From a report: No matter what you call it, this type of immunity offers much-needed good news in what seems like an endless array of bad news regarding COVID-19. Over the past several months, a series of studies has found that some people mount an extraordinarily powerful immune response against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19. Their bodies produce very high levels of antibodies, but they also make antibodies with great flexibility -- likely capable of fighting off the coronavirus variants circulating in the world but also likely effective against variants that may emerge in the future.

"One could reasonably predict that these people will be quite well protected against most -- and perhaps all of -- the SARS-CoV-2 variants that we are likely to see in the foreseeable future," says Paul Bieniasz, a virologist at Rockefeller University who helped lead several of the studies. In a study published online last month, Bieniasz and his colleagues found antibodies in these individuals that can strongly neutralize the six variants of concern tested, including delta and beta, as well as several other viruses related to SARS-CoV-2, including one in bats, two in pangolins and the one that caused the first coronavirus pandemic, SARS-CoV-1. "This is being a bit more speculative, but I would also suspect that they would have some degree of protection against the SARS-like viruses that have yet to infect humans," Bieniasz says.

Intel

Intel To Invest Up To $95 Billion in European Chip-Making Amid US Expansion (wsj.com) 32

Intel plans to build new chip-making facilities in Europe valued at up to $95 billion, responding to a cross-border race to add manufacturing capacity at a time of a global chip-supply crunch. From a report: Intel Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger Tuesday said the company was planning two chip factories at a new site in Europe and could potentially expand it further, with the increases raising the total investment over about a decade to the equivalent of as much as 80 billion euros. The facilities would cater to meteoric demand for semiconductors as computers, cars and gadgets become more chip-hungry. "This new era of sustained demand for semiconductors needs bold, big thinking," he said at an auto-industry event in Munich.

Rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world largest contract chip maker, this year said it would spend a record $100 billion over the next three years to increase production capacity. South Korean rival Samsung Electronics last month said it plans to boost investments by one third to more than $205 billion over the next three years, in part to pursue leadership in chip manufacturing. The global chip shortage has hit auto makers particularly hard. Ford Motor and General Motors last week said they were curtailing production because of a dearth of chips. Japan's Toyota Motor last month said that it would cut production by 40% world-wide in September. Intel said it plans to commit manufacturing capacity at a factory in Ireland to the auto-chip sector. And it is standing up a chip-design team to help others adapt designs so they can use Intel's manufacturing capabilities. Intel's contract chip-making business has been courting potential customers in Europe, including automotive companies, the company said Thursday.

Television

Forget Netflix, Some Movie Fans Rewind To VHS Tapes (wsj.com) 170

While the pandemic supercharged streaming, a few people decided to swim against the current and go back to the familiar format of VHS. It isn't the easiest of hobbies. From a report: VCR players haven't been in production within the last five years, and using the player on a current smart TV requires an expensive customized setup of several devices. Looking for a recent film on VHS format? It's likely you'll only find films from the 1980s and 90s, direct-to-VHS specials and home videos. That hasn't stopped die-hards. A small community of VHS fanatics has sprung up around the country, trading tapes and tips on how to watch. Much of it is organized around small boxes where people can drop off or pick up tapes. The "Free Blockbuster" boxes started in Los Angeles and spread. There are VHS tape trading events and auctions.

In the late 1990s, Hollywood studios began selling films on DVDs and VHS rentals lost their grip on home viewings. Blu-ray took over in the early 2000s. By 2010 Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection. To try to re-create a bit of the video-store experience, Brian Morrison started Free Blockbuster in 2019. The group turns former newspaper boxes into free little libraries of movies. VHS die-hards hope the effort encourages the exchange of home entertainment with strangers in their neighborhood. A film fan who worked at various video stores throughout his teenage years, Mr. Morrison, 37, stocked his first Free Blockbuster box in Los Angeles with old VHS tapes, hoping to create community around film watching.

Though DVDs and videogames showed up later in some boxes, he says VHS tapes were the more interesting draw for Free Blockbuster users. Mr. Morrison connects tape fanatics in different places, who maintain their own boxes. VHS tapes "aren't just DVDs' older cousins," Mr. Morrison says, "they're an art form in many ways." The 69 Free Blockbuster boxes, now located across the U.S. and in Canada and Australia, are maintained by a network of fans. Mr. Morrison said he received a request from Blockbuster, which is owned by Dish Network, last year that he change the name of his organization. He said he asked if the company would consider licensing out the name but hasn't heard back.

Earth

Animals 'Shapeshifting' in Response To Climate Crisis, Research Finds (theguardian.com) 54

Animals are increasingly "shapeshifting" because of the climate crisis, researchers have said. From a report: Warm-blooded animals are changing their physiology to adapt to a hotter climate, the scientists found. This includes getting larger beaks, legs and ears to better regulate their body temperature. When animals overheat, birds use their beaks and mammals use their ears to disperse the warmth. Some creatures in warmer climates have historically evolved to have larger beaks or ears to get rid of heat more easily. These differences are becoming more pronounced as the climate warms. If animals fail to control their body temperature, they can overheat and die. Beaks, which are not covered by feathers and therefore not insulated, are a site of significant heat exchange, as are ears, tails and legs in mammals if not covered by fur.

The review, published in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution, found that the differences are particularly pronounced in birds. The author of the study, Sara Ryding of Deakin university, a bird researcher, said: "Shapeshifting does not mean that animals are coping with climate change and that all is fine. "It just means they are evolving to survive it -- but we're not sure what the other ecological consequences of these changes are, or indeed that all species are capable of changing and surviving." While the scientists say it is difficult to pinpoint climate breakdown as the sole cause of the shapeshifting, it is what the instances studied have in common across geographical regions and across a diverse array of species. Examples include several species of Australian parrot that have shown a 4-10% increase in bill size since 1871, positively correlated with the summer temperature each year.

Microsoft

Microsoft Joins Open Infrastructure Foundation (zdnet.com) 28

An anonymous reader shares a report: For years, OpenStack, the open-source, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud {and related projects such as Airship, open-source tools for cloud provisioning, and Zuul, the Ansible-based continuous integration (CI) system} has hovered between what Gartner calls the Trough of Disillusionment and Slope of Enlightenment. Now with Microsoft joining the Open Infrastructure Foundation, it should be clear to anyone that OpenStack and its related technologies have jumped to the Plateau of Productivity. Why? Because together they can advance and profit from using these cloud technologies to further the hybrid cloud and, an OpenStack specialty, 5G. Microsoft is joining the Open Infrastructure Foundation as a Platinum Member. This move makes perfect sense. According to the 2021 OpenStack User Survey, which will be released shortly in Superuser Magazine, 40% of OpenStack users running their deployment in a multi-cloud configuration are already running OpenStack on Azure. Clearly, OpenInfra and Microsoft belong together.
Games

Slashdot Alum Samzenpus's Fractured Veil Hits Kickstarter (kickstarter.com) 69

CmdrTaco writes: Long time Slashdot readers remember Samzenpus, who posted over 17,000 stories here, sadly crushing my record in the process! What you might NOT know is that he was frequently the Dungeon Master for D&D campaigns played by the original Slashdot crew, and for the last few years he has been applying these skills with fellow Slashdot editorial alum Chris DiBona to a Survival game called Fractured Veil. It's set in a post apocalyptic Hawaii with a huge world based on real map data to explore, as well as careful balance between PVP & PVE. I figured a lot of our old friends would love to help them meet their kickstarter goal and then help us build bases and murder monsters! The game is turning into something pretty great and I'm excited to see it in the wild!
Iphone

Apple's iPhone 13, New Apple Watch on Tap For Virtual Launch Next Tuesday (cnet.com) 56

Apple's next event, during which it will likely unveil its next slate of devices, including the seventh-generation Apple Watch and a new iPhone, is happening Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. PT, the company confirmed Tuesday. The event, like all previous ones over the last year and a half, will be held entirely online amid continued concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. From a report: Apple's invite includes the phrase "California streaming." It features a neon outline of the Apple logo set atop a silhouette of a mountain range. The company's flashy event is its most important of the year, setting its product lineup for the holiday shopping season. Last year, Apple held three major product releases in the second half, separating out announcements for its latest Apple Watches, iPads, iPhones and Mac computers. The releases helped propel Apple's sales and profit to their highest levels, setting new revenue records for the company's iPhones, iPads and Mac computers. It's unclear just what products Apple will announce and if it will repeat last year's tactic of holding multiple events throughout the second half. The iPhone 13 is almost assuredly going to make an appearance. The rumored Apple Watch 7 could as well.
Microsoft

Microsoft Start is a Personalized News Feed Designed for Windows 11, Mobile, and More (theverge.com) 57

Microsoft is launching Microsoft Start today, a personalized news feed that integrates into Windows 11 and is accessible online and on iOS and Android. Microsoft Start is very similar to the MSN feed that exists today and to Microsoft News. Microsoft is rebranding these into Microsoft Start and integrating the feed into the Windows 11 widgets section and the Windows 10 taskbar. From a report: Much like Microsoft News, Microsoft Start includes news and media channels from more than 1,000 publishers. Microsoft uses AI and machine learning algorithms to sort through which news is presented to users and to personalize content based on interests and how you engage with content. There's also some "human moderation" involved, but Microsoft did layoff dozens of journalists and editorial workers at its Microsoft News and MSN organizations last year, so it's not clear how involved editors will be. Microsoft Start will surface top stories, personalized recommendations, and sports scores or the weather in its feed.
Security

Ghostscript Zero-Day Allows Full Server Compromises (therecord.media) 40

Proof-of-concept exploit code was published online over the weekend for an unpatched Ghostscript vulnerability that puts all servers that rely on the component at risk of attacks. From a report: Published by Vietnamese security researcher Nguyen The Duc, the proof-of-concept code is available on GitHub and was confirmed to work by several of today's leading security researchers. Released back in 1988, Ghostscript is a small library that allows applications to process PDF documents and PostScript-based files. While its primary use is for desktop software, Ghostscript is also used server-side, where it is typically included with image conversion and file upload processing toolkits, such as the popular ImageMagick. The proof-of-concept code released by Nguyen on Sunday exploits this latter scenario, allowing an attacker to upload a malformed SVG file that escapes the image processing pipeline and runs malicious code on the underlying operating system. While Nguyen released the public exploit for this bug, he is not the one who discovered the vulnerability.
Hardware

The Strange Tale of the Freedom Phone (nytimes.com) 171

A 22-year-old Bitcoin millionaire wants Republicans to ditch their iPhones for a low-end handset that he hopes to turn into a political tool. From a report: It was a pitch tuned for a politically polarized audience. Erik Finman, a 22-year-old who called himself the world's youngest Bitcoin millionaire, posted a video on Twitter for a new kind of smartphone that he said would liberate Americans from their "Big Tech overlords." His splashy video, posted in July, had stirring music, American flags and references to former Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Donald J. Trump. Conservative pundits hawked Mr. Finman's Freedom Phone, and his video amassed 1.8 million views. Mr. Finman soon had thousands of orders for the $500 device. Then came the hard part: Building and delivering the phones. First, he received bad early reviews for a plan to simply put his software on a cheap Chinese phone. And then there was the unglamorous work of shipping phones, hiring customer-service agents, collecting sales taxes and dealing with regulators.

"I feel like practically I was prepared for anything," he said in a recent interview. "But I guess it's kind of like how you hope for world peace, in the sense you don't think it's going to happen." For even the most lavishly funded start-ups, it is hard to compete with tech industry giants that have a death grip on their markets and are valued in the trillions of dollars. Mr. Finman was part of a growing right-wing tech industry taking on the challenge nonetheless, relying more on their conservative customers' distaste for Silicon Valley than expertise or experience. [...] To make a smartphone, however, he had to rely on Google. The company's Android software already works with millions of apps, and Google makes a free, open version of the software for developers to modify. So Mr. Finman hired engineers to strip it of any sign of Google and load it with apps from conservative social networks and news outlets. Then he uploaded the software on phones he bought from China. To unveil the phone, he recorded an infomercial in which he cast the tech companies as enemies of the American way. "Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg banned MLK or Abraham Lincoln," he said in the video. "The course of history would have been altered forever."

[...] Thousands of people bought the $500 phone. Others, including some conservatives, quickly panned the animated pitch. Quickly, news outlets reported that the Freedom Phone was based on a low-cost handset from Umidigi, a Chinese manufacturer that had used chips shown to be vulnerable to hacks. Mr. Finman, who marketed the device as "the best phone in the world," was on the defensive. In an interview in July, Mr. Finman admitted that Umidigi made the phone but still said he was "100 percent" sure it was more secure than the latest iPhone. Apple has tens of thousands of engineers. Mr. Finman said he employed 15 people in Utah and Idaho.

Bitcoin

Sometimes Dismissed as a Fad in Advanced Economies, Crypto Holds More Appeal in Countries With a History of Financial Instability (ft.com) 70

In advanced economies, cryptocurrencies are viewed by many in the financial world with suspicion -- the domain of zealous "crypto bros" and a speculative and highly volatile fad that can only end badly. Regulators in Europe and the US have issued stark warnings about the dangers of trading crypto. But in the developing world, there are signs that crypto is quietly building deeper roots. Especially in countries which have a history of financial instability or where the barriers to accessing traditional financial products such as bank accounts are high, cryptocurrency use is fast becoming a fact of daily life. Financial Times: "While everyone was paying attention to [Tesla chief executive] Elon Musk's tweets, and which institutional investor or CEO was saying what they thought about bitcoin, there was this entire story unravelling in emerging markets around the world that's really powerful," says Kim Grauer, director of research at Chainalysis, a leading data company in the sector. "There's a massive crypto footprint in many of these countries ... [and] a massive amount of entrepreneurial opportunity." Chainalysis ranks Vietnam first for crypto adoption worldwide -- one of 19 emerging and frontier markets in its top 20, with only the US among advanced economies making an appearance at number eight in 2021. "It's very striking this year, [adoption] is a story of emerging and frontier markets," adds Grauer. Separate data from UsefulTulips.org, tracking bitcoin transactions on the world's two biggest peer-to-peer crypto trading platforms, show that in the past few weeks, sub-Saharan Africa has overtaken North America to become the geographical region with the highest volume of this kind of crypto activity.

[...] Emerging markets are fertile ground for cryptocurrencies, often because their own are failing to do their job. As a store of value, as a means of exchange and as a unit of account, national currencies in some developing countries too often fall short. Unpredictable inflation and fast-moving exchange rates, clunky and expensive banking systems, financial restrictions and regulatory uncertainty, especially the existence or threat of capital controls, all undermine their appeal. Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, is a case in point. Its impatient, youthful population has to contend daily with high unemployment, the vagaries of black market currency exchanges and capital controls. As the price of oil, the country's main export, dropped during the pandemic and further squeezed dollar supply, many businesses were unable to pay foreign suppliers and lenders, almost leading to the default of a World Bank-backed power plant that provides a tenth of Nigeria's electricity. For individuals sending or receiving remittances or billing customers, the lack of dollars is a constant headache.

Programming

Developer Returns To Game After Four Decades, Discovers and Fixes Typo So It Works (tomsguide.com) 98

joshuark writes: Harry McCracken is not the name of a Cold War superspy, but a man who is now the tech editor of Fast Company and, in his younger days, a developer of games for Radio Shack's TRS-80 microcomputer. McCracken, who is also a regular Slashdot reader, recently went back to have a look at his first game, Arctic Adventure, which he wrote when he was 16 around 1980-81 -- a text adventure inspired by the work of Scott Adams in particular, a pioneering designer of the Adventure series of games for the TRS-80.

As was common in the 80s, Arctic Adventure was distributed in book form. This was The Captain 80 Book of BASIC Adventures: pages of type-it-yourself BASIC code, each entry its own adventure game. [...] "Decades later, I didn't spend much time thinking about Arctic Adventure, but I never forgot the fact that I hadn't received a copy of the Captain 80 book. Thanks to the internet, I eventually acquired one. But typing in five-and-a-half pages of old BASIC code seemed onerous, even if it was code I'd written."

McCracken eventually got around to it this July. "After five or six tedious typing sessions on my iPad, I had Arctic Adventure restored to digital form. That was when I made an alarming discovery: As printed in the Captain 80 book, the game wasn't just unwinnable, but unplayable. It turned out that it had a 1981 typo that consisted of a single missing '0' in a character string. It was so fundamental a glitch that it rendered the game's command of the English language inoperable. You couldn't GET SHOVEL let alone complete the adventure."

Businesses

The Chip Shortage Has Made a Star of This Little-Known Component (wsj.com) 63

The global chip shortage is giving rise to a small group of little-known companies whose products are increasingly essential to the plans of semiconductor industry titans. From a report: The companies make parts called substrates, which connect chips to the circuit boards that hold them in personal computers and other devices. The components are relatively simple but as vital to a computer chip's operation as the silicon at its core. Substrate manufacturing has long been seen as a backwater of the global chip supply chain. The sector's relatively low margins have led to underinvestment and, in recent months, added to the pain of a global chip shortage that has constrained personal computer sales, caused some auto makers to idle plants and raised costs for electronic devices.

Supplies of substrates used in some of the most advanced chips are particularly tight, and some industry specialists said they could remain in short supply for years. That has made sourcing the products a priority for chip companies including Intel, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices and given new clout to the unheralded companies that specialize in making them. "Right now, all you have to do is say you manufacture substrates, and you get business -- it's insane," said Nicholas Stukan, chief business development officer at Zhuhai Access Semiconductor, a substrate manufacturer based in southern China. He said chip makers are begging for supply and are willing to pay much higher prices than usual to satisfy antsy customers. Intel Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger discussed his company's efforts to address substrate shortages in the company's earnings calls this year -- the first time in a decade the topic was featured in any meaningful way in Intel's quarterly results presentation. Mr. Gelsinger is expecting the chip crunch to last into 2023 as the chip industry, including substrate suppliers, boost capacity. Adding a new substrate factory can take a year or two, he said in a July interview. "This is a challenging demand environment," he said.

Transportation

Toyota To Spend $13.5 Billion To Develop EV Battery Tech and Supply By 2030 (reuters.com) 133

Toyota said on Tuesday it expects to spend more than $13.5 billion by 2030 to develop batteries and its battery supply system -- a bid to lead in the key automotive technology over the next decade. From a report: The world's largest automaker by volume, which pioneered hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles with the popular Prius, is now moving rapidly to deliver its first all-electric line-up next year. Considered a leader in developing batteries for electric vehicles, Toyota said it aims to slash the cost of its batteries by 30% or more by working on the materials used and the way the cells are structured. "Then, for the vehicle, we aim to improve power consumption, which is an indicator of the amount of electricity used per kilometer, by 30%, starting with the Toyota bZ4X," Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda told a briefing, referring to an upcoming compact SUV model.
Bitcoin

El Salvador Bought $21 Million of Bitcoin as it Becomes First Country To Make It a Legal Currency (cnbc.com) 71

El Salvador bought roughly $20.9 million worth of bitcoin, one day before it formally adopts the world's most popular cryptocurrency as legal tender. From a report: In a series of tweets Monday, President Nayib Bukele revealed that the country had purchased a total of 400 bitcoin, the first step in a larger push to add the digital currency to its balance sheet. The tweets were posted a few hours apart. Based on the bitcoin price at the time of the tweets, the amount of the digital coin purchased totaled roughly $20.9 million. "Our brokers will be buying a lot more as the deadline approaches," he wrote. The price of bitcoin rose following the tweets and was trading at around $52,681.85 at 12:16 a.m. ET Tuesday. The posts came hours before El Salvador's bitcoin law, which was passed in June, took effect Tuesday. El Salvador is the first country to accept bitcoin as legal currency, which will work alongside the U.S. dollar. Proponents and critics around the world will be watching to see how this unprecedented experiment plays out.

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