Cruise gets permit from California to provide passenger test rides in driverless vehicles

The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) said Friday (pdf) it has authorized General Motors-owned self-driving vehicle company Cruise to provide driverless passenger service to the public in its robotaxis.

The CPUC said Cruise is the first entrant in its driverless pilot program, which lets companies give test rides in vehicles without drivers. Under the terms of the program, Cruise may not charge passengers for the rides, and the company must submit quarterly reports to the CPUC about the vehicles’ operations.

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Square will invest $5 million to build solar-powered bitcoin mining facility

Financial services firm Square Inc. will partner with blockchain technology provider Blockstream Mining to build an open-source, solar-powered bitcoin mining facility, Blockstream announced in a press release Saturday. Square confirmed the news in a tweet, saying it was “committed to driving further adoption and efficiency of renewables within the bitcoin ecosystem.”

According to the release, Square will invest $5 million in the facility, which will be a “proof-of-concept for a 100% renewable energy Bitcoin mine at scale,” and will be built at one of Blockstream’s sites in the US. “We hope to show that a renewable mining facility in the real world is not only possible but also prove empirically that Bitcoin accelerates the world toward a sustainable future,” the release states.

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Android ad tracking still isn’t opt-in, though, so not much will change.

After Apple shook up the advertising industry by requiring users to opt-in to ad tracking in iOS 14.5, Google—the world’s biggest ad company—is announcing a small concession for advertising on Android. Starting in late 2021, Google will begin to roll out a feature that makes Android’s years-old advertising opt-out checkbox less likely to be bypassed by apps.

ndroid has offered an advertising opt-out option for years, and the interface doesn’t seem to be changing. Buried in the settings (System Settings -> Google -> Ads) is a checkbox allowing you to “opt out of ads personalization.”

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Report: Facebook to End Special Treatment for Politicians

Facebook will reportedly overturn its policy that shields politicians from some content moderation rules, according to The Verge.

The move comes a month after Facebook’s Oversight Board upheld the company’s decision to restrict former President Donald Trump’s access to the social network in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, though it took issue with the indefinite nature of the ban. An independent group funded by Facebook to review tricky content rulings, the 20-member Oversight Board in May said that the “same rules should apply to all users.”

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Ransomware will now get priority treatment at the Justice Department

The Justice Department has created a task force to centrally track and coordinate all federal cases involving ransomware or related types of cybercrime, such as botnets, money laundering, and bulletproof hosting.

“To ensure we can make necessary connections across national and global cases and investigations … we must enhance and centralize our internal tracking of investigations and prosecutions of ransomware groups and the infrastructure and networks that allow the threats to persist,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told US attorneys throughout the country on Thursday. She issued the directive in a memo that was first reported by Reuters. Investigators in field offices around the country would be expected to share information as well.

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Optus launches Internet plan for gamers

Gaming performance can plummet when an overloaded network causes high latency. To prevent this problem, Optus has launched a home internet plan

especially designed for gamers, with a whole bunch of features that the company says helps address congestion issues within households where multiple devices are used.

Known as the Optus Internet Gamer 100 Plan, Optus says it includes unlimited data, 100Mbs (estimated between 7am-11pm) download speeds, a dedicated Wi-Fi 6 gaming router that prioritises gaming traffic, and a six-month trial of the company’s Game Path service.

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Microsoft looks ready to launch Windows 11

Microsoft has been teasing a “next generation” of Windows for months now, but new hints suggest the company isn’t just preparing an update to its existing Windows 10 software, but a new, numbered version of the operating system: Windows 11.

The software giant announced a new Windows event for June 24th yesterday, promising to show “what’s next for Windows.” The event invite included an image of what looks like a new Windows logo, with light shining through the window in only two vertical bars, creating an outline that looks very much like the number 11. Microsoft followed up with an animated version of this image, making it clear the company intentionally ignored the horizontal bars.

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14-Year-Old PS3 Gets a System Update to Improve Performance

You’d think Sony’s focus would be on the PS5 right now, with one eye on the PS4, but it seems the PS3 is still on the company’s radar as it just got a new system update.

As VGC reports, this update takes the System Software to v4.88 and it requires 200MB of free space either on your PS3 hard drive or a USB stick plugged into a PC. Unfortunately, there’s no details on why this update was released and what it does. The software features description simply states, “This system software update improves system performance.”

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Apple’s M1 Chip Has a Fascinating Flaw

Apple’s new M1 CPU has a flaw that creates a covert channel that two or more malicious apps—already installed—can use to transmit information to each other, a developer has found.

The surreptitious communication can occur without using computer memory, sockets, files, or any other operating system feature, developer Hector Martin said. The channel can bridge processes running as different users and under different privilege levels. These characteristics allow for the apps to exchange data in a way that can’t be detected—at least not without specialized equipment.

Martin said the flaw is mainly harmless, because it can’t be used to infect a Mac, and it can’t be used by exploits or malware to steal or tamper with data on a machine. It can only be abused by two or more malicious apps that have already been installed on a Mac through means unrelated to the M1 flaw.

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Chair Simulator Is a Game About … Sitting

Over the weekend, I finished my first desktop gaming PC build, complete with an RTX 3080, a wicked-fast hard drive, and more RGB than is fully necessary. Once I was fully set up, I didn’t push Cyberpunk 2077’s ray-tracing capabilities to the max. I didn’t delve into the world of overclocking. I didn’t even mine a single Satoshi. Rather, I mined Sit Points in Chair Simulator, a free Steam game that lives up to its name.

Chair Simulator is the latest drop from MSCHF, the viral pranksters known for such memes as the Jesus shoes (and subsequent Satan shoes), Finger on the App, and mounting a paintball gun on a Boston Dynamics Spot robot. The game is silly, senseless, and weirdly enjoyable—an embodiment of that specific sort of slap-happy, late-night sleepover energy.

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