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Behind the Naming of ZombieLoad and Other Intel Spectre-Like Flaws

Slashdot - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 18:00
secwatcher writes: There was a lot more to the name game behind choosing titles for ZombieLoad, Spectre and Meltdown than picking cool and edgy attack titles. If you have ever wondered why they were named what they were, Threatpost tracked down one of the researchers behind the naming convention (and discovery) and found out. Much like the funky titles of advanced persistent threat groups, these speculative execution attacks, which impact Intel CPUs, are often named to reflect the impact behind the vulnerabilities, their attributes and how the attack processes work. "We always try to come up with names that somehow resemble the nature of the attack," Daniel Gruss, a security researcher from the Graz University of Technology and one of the founders of the ZombieLoad flaw, told Threatpost in a recent podcast interview. When it comes to ZombieLoad, "the nature of the attack is also something which fits the name very well," said Gruss. That's because the attack relies on the processor sending multiple load requests out to load data (instead of loading data once), as a result of the chip carrying out processes that will work in the most optimistic, opportunistic way, said Gruss. Spectre and Meltdown, for their part, have their own history behind their names. The idea for naming Spectre after a ghost -- also known by its logo, of a malevolent-looking ghost with a stick in its hand -- came from from Paul Kocher, one of the collaborating researchers who discovered the flaw. "The reasoning behind the name was that Spectre is ... it's not a nice spectre," Gruss told Threatpost. Meltdown, meanwhile, was so named because the vulnerability "melts security boundaries which are normally enforced by the hardware." But beyond that, unlike Spectre, the attack can be fixed and won't haunt users for years to come, said Gruss.

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Tim Cook Says His Era Has Failed by Over-Debating Climate Change

Slashdot - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 17:20
Tim Cook told graduates at Tulane University that his "generation has failed" them by fighting more than making change on issues including immigration, criminal justice and, pointedly, climate change. From a report: "We've been too focused on the fight and not enough on the progress," the Apple chief executive said Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. "You don't need to look far to find an example of that failure." He was referring to the Superdome, which sheltered thousands from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He then criticized, without naming, politicians who raise doubts about climate change or its cause, a group that includes President Donald Trump. "I don't think we can talk about who we are as a people and what we owe to one another without talking about climate change," he said. Cook, 58, said the solution to climate change won't be found based on whose side wins or loses an election. "It's about who has won life's lottery and has the luxury of ignoring this issue and who stands to lose everything," he said. "I challenge you to look for those who have the most to lose and find the real, true empathy that comes from something shared," Cook said. "When you do that, the political noise dies down."

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Rage 2 PC analysis: what does it take to run at 1080p60 and beyond

Eurogamer - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 17:00

Rage 2's console release revealed a big divide in performance between the standard and enhanced machines. PS4 Pro and Xbox One X delivered beautifully smooth 60 frames per second gameplay, with a drop to 30fps on vanilla hardware. The big surprise? Even Microsoft's six teraflop monster 'only' ran at 1080p resolution, leaving it down to the PC game to scale up to higher resolution displays. But what does it take to hit 1440p or even 4K at 60fps? And in what other ways does PC scale beyond the console experience?

First impressions are certainly promising. In common with Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, Bethesda has taken the brave move of shipping Rage 2 just with Vulkan API support, with no DirectX fallback. Settings-wise, the game is fairly comprehensive with plenty of tweakables to adjust, including toggles for contentious post-processing effects like chromatic aberation and motion blur. The game can run fully unlocked with frame-rates beyond 60fps (unlike the original Rage) and 21:9 ultrawide support is also baked in.

There's even support for dynamic resolution scaling, which potentially could be very useful... if it were working. From what I've witnessed, internal resolution increases based on screen movement (?) with the end result being that jumping on the spot can deliver a higher quality image. It doesn't seem to scale according to GPU load as you would expect, suggesting that the feature is very broken right now. Regardless, I'd suggest turning this feature off, with the hope being that its functionality will be addressed in a forthcoming patch.

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Categories: Video Games

Free-to-play Monster-Hunter-like Dauntless gets full launch next week

Eurogamer - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 16:53

UPDATE 21/5/19: Free-to-play Monster Hunter-like Dauntless has launched today with cross-play for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One - making it the first game ever to do so.

Cross-play which bridges the PlayStation and Xbox divide is still extremely limited. Just two games - Fortnite and Rocket League - currently support it.

Developer Phoenix Labs has previously spoken of how it wanted full cross-play for Dauntless one day - to launch with it from the off is a milestone.

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Categories: Video Games

Factory Workers Become Coders as Companies Automate

Slashdot - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 16:40
As automation changes the way factories operate, some U.S. companies are training workers in programming and robotics, letting machinists get a taste of coding. From a report: Competition from China was among the reasons Drew Greenblatt, chief executive of manufacturing firm Marlin Steel Wire Products, purchased $2 million worth of robots in the past 15 months. The Baltimore-based maker of wire baskets is training employees on operating the robots and using laser-cutting software. The company's machinists develop code so robots can make parts to specifications, replacing several workers who physically created parts. Other employees use collaborative software to interact with customers on real-time design changes, helping the company manufacture higher-quality steel products, charge more for them and create unique intellectual property, he said. Marlin Steel is on track to generate $8 million in revenue this year, up from about $5 million the previous year. [...] Radwell International, a manufacturing and repair firm based in Willingboro, N.J., identified workers with an aptitude for learning and decent knowledge of processes and systems and trained them in skills such as programming on Visual Basic to build software tools to handle tasks like purchasing. Radwell IT staff who learned Python, a programming language used widely in artificial intelligence and data science, built an AI system to sort incoming parts. The system helps recognize parts based on rough contours, differentiating a circuit breaker from a motor. The staff is now developing a machine-vision-based AI system to recognize parts. Employees are also being trained on manufacturing techniques like 3-D printing to make replacement parts for customers.

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Sony opens PlayStation Productions to develop multiple game franchises into TV and movies

Eurogamer - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 16:28

PlayStation Productions is a new studio set up by Sony to convert its video game franchises into blockbuster films and television.

Its first slate of projects is already in production, according to Hollywood Reporter.

The idea is PlayStation will leverage its own links to sister company Sony Pictures and work on adaptations in-house, rather than farming franchises out to external studios, and do it all better than some of the dodgy game-to-film adaptations of the past.

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Categories: Video Games

Observation review - a simple puzzler elevated by its sublime atmosphere

Eurogamer - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 16:00

Developer No Code has tirelessly described Observation as "2001 but from the perspective of HAL", a proposition that is as intriguing as it is unique, especially coming from a studio that features several people who used to work on Creative Assembly's Alien: Isolation.

Observation begins after an unexplained incident on the LOSS - short for Low Orbit Space Station - which sits in orbit around Earth. You hear a crew member frantically try to make contact with mission control, but around you everything is dark until the runaway space station spins past a light source, revealing nothing but a floating helmet and other wayward equipment.

It immediately instills a sense of unease, a feeling that doesn't lift throughout the entire experience. Soon after this your role becomes clear. You're Sam (voiced brilliantly coldly by Anthony Howell), the station's System, Administration and Maintenance, alone with the crew doctor Emma Fisher (Kezia Burrows, a familiar voice given the setting after her role as Amanda Ripley in Alien Isolation). Emma has just gotten her bearings when a mysterious outside force tampers with your system and gives you one command: Bring Her. This leads Sam to make his first independent decision - he unceremoniously moves the whole station to Saturn.

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Categories: Video Games

Huawei Considers Rivals To Google's Android After US Ban

Slashdot - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 16:00
Huawei said it's working on its own operating system for its mobile handsets and will consider rivals to Google's Android, after the U.S. blacklisted the company, threatening its partnerships with chip, component and software suppliers. From a report: The Chinese telecom equipment giant said Tuesday it was in talks with the Alphabet about how to proceed after Google confirmed it would cut access to some of Huawei's operating system features for the company's new devices in response to the announcement. Should Google's system no longer be available, "then the alternative option will naturally come out -- either from Huawei or someone else," Abraham Liu, Huawei's representative to the European Union institutions, said at an event in Brussels on Tuesday. Liu said Huawei had been working on its own operating system but that he didn't have the details about when this would be ready. Huawei would do everything in its power to mitigate the impact of the U.S. decisions, Liu said.

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Codemasters reveals an all-new Grid

Eurogamer - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 15:37

Codemasters has just announced that an all-new Grid will be coming to consoles and PC later this year, with the fourth instalment in the series - called, simply, Grid - out on September 13th.

It comes over a decade after the original - which, I guess, we should now call Gr1d - which saw Codemasters shake up the racing genre with its introduction of the rewind mechanic. The slightly less-than-stellar Grid 2 followed in 2013, putting a heavy American twang on the whole thing, and was quickly followed up by Grid Autosport - or Grid 2: We're Sorry Edition - in 2014.

The new trailer, which features a host of GTLM machines as well as older vehicles, strongly suggests that the rewind feature will return for this instalment. It will feature racing across four continents, as well as input from Fernando Alonso, who's fresh from failing to qualify for this weekend's Indy 500 after McLaren painted its car the wrong colour and forgot to buy a steering wheel.

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Categories: Video Games

Report Finds Some Users Can't Opt Out of Facebook's Face Recognition

Slashdot - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Daily Dot: A consumer advocacy group has found that not all Facebook users have been given the ability to opt out of the company's facial recognition. According to Consumer Reports, despite Facebook rolling out a new privacy setting last year allowing users to choose whether the company can use such technology to detect them in photos, some users say they have never been granted the option. After analyzing the accounts of 31 users throughout the U.S., Consumer Reports discovered that 8 accounts, or roughly 25 percent, did not have the face recognition setting. Consumer Reports set up its own test accounts to determine whether the privacy setting would be available but found that around half a dozen did not have the ability to disable face recognition.

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PlayStation 5 tech demo footage surfaces at investor conference

Eurogamer - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 14:06

Sony has shown an early PlayStation 5 tech demo at an investor conference, captured for posterity by Wall Street Journal Tokyo journalist Takashi Mochizuki and embedded further on down this page. The demo - or a variant of it - was previously shown to Wired magazine, highlighting the enormous streaming and loading time advantages offered by the proprietary SSD technology that finds its way into Sony's next generation PlayStation.

The presentation is based on Marvel's Spider-Man, developed by Insomniac Games. It starts off by showing a series of 'fast travel' warps around the game's New York map, with the PS4 Pro taking 8.1 seconds to complete a single jump. By contrast, the next generation hardware completes the same process in just 0.83 seconds. Roughly speaking, loading times are improved by an order of magnitude.

The second element of the demo focuses on streaming open world data. In the original Wired piece, PlayStation system architect Mark Cerny explained that the speed of traversal in Spider-Man is limited by the constraints of the PS4 Pro hardware. The video shows this in action: as speed is increased, the PS4 Pro grinds to a halt as it streams in new information, with buildings popping in before the sequence starts up again. The same sequence on the new hardware shows traversal at jet fighter speeds, with no hitching or stuttering whatsoever.

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Categories: Video Games

Why FIFA 19 players are kicking off about kits

Eurogamer - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 12:27

EA's Team of the Season promo for FIFA Ultimate Team used to be considered one of the best times to play the game. But with FIFA 19's incarnation, players are kicking off.

The promo adds unique, more powerful versions of players determined to be in each major league's team of the season. For example, Leicester City and England midfielder James Maddison is in the Premier League Team of the Season, with an 88-overall rating special card.

In previous years, EA has added fun methods to obtain Team of the Season cards without having to buy packs and hope for luck. One of these methods is Upgrade Squad Building Challenges, which reward players with untradeable Team of the Season cards in exchange for a squad of high-quality cards. These Squad Building Challenges usually require a grind most FUT players enjoy. Indeed some FUT players spend all year planning for these end of season Squad Building Challenges.

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Categories: Video Games

George R.R. Martin stokes flames of FromSoftware collaboration rumour

Eurogamer - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 12:21

If you were wondering why those final two Game of Thrones books are taking so long, we now partially know the answer. George R.R. Martin has revealed he's been working on a video game - one that's rumoured to be a FromSoftware title. If that last bit is true, I can totally forgive him for the wait.

A few weeks ago, the initial rumour was unleashed by video games industry Varys Liam Robertson and YouTube channel Spawn Wave, claiming Martin is working on "some sort of Souls-like game" by FromSoftware with an open-world style, different kingdoms and abilities that can be collected from each area, with Martin "work[ing] on and real[ising]" the world. That was the last we'd heard of the project - until yesterday, when Martin himself provoked further speculation.

In a blog post released to celebrate the final episode of HBO's Game of Thrones, Martin briefly mentioned he's "consulted on a video game out of Japan". Martin didn't elaborate further on the title, but a source familiar with FromSoftware's ongoing projects gave Gematsu further information. Apparently the game is internally being called "GR" and has been in development for the past three years. Again, it's supposed to be an open-world title with horse riding, published by Bandai Namco, and the brain child of a collaboration between Hidetaka Miyazaki (creator of the Souls series) and George R.R. Martin.

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Categories: Video Games

The Underground Network of Microbes That Connects Trees Mapped For First Time

Slashdot - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 12:00
For the first time, scientists have mapped the millions of species of fungi and bacteria that swap nutrients between soil and the roots of trees, using a database of more than 28,000 tree species living in more than 70 countries. This interconnected web of organisms throughout the woods is being dubbed the "wood wide web." Science Magazine reports: Before scientists could map the forest's underground ecosystem, they needed to know something more basic: where trees live. Ecologist Thomas Crowther, now at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, gathered vast amounts of data on this starting in 2012, from government agencies and individual scientists who had identified trees and measured their sizes around the world. In 2015, he mapped trees' global distribution and reported that Earth has about 3 trillion trees. Inspired by that paper, Kabir Peay, a biologist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, emailed Crowther and suggested doing the same for the web of underground organisms that connects forest trees. Each tree in Crowther's database is closely associated with certain types of microbes. For example, oak and pine tree roots are surrounded by ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi that can build vast underground networks in their search for nutrients. Maple and cedar trees, by contrast, prefer arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM), which burrow directly into trees' root cells but form smaller soil webs. Still other trees, mainly in the legume family (related to crop plants such as soybeans and peanuts), associate with bacteria that turn nitrogen from the atmosphere into usable plant food, a process known as "fixing" nitrogen. The researchers wrote a computer algorithm to search for correlations between the EM-, AM-, and nitrogen-fixer-associated trees in Crowther's database and local environmental factors such as temperature, precipitation, soil chemistry, and topography. They then used the correlations found by the algorithm to fill in the global map and predict what kinds of fungi would live in places where they didn't have data, which included much of Africa and Asia. Local climate sets the stage for the wood wide web, the team reports today in Nature. In cool temperate and boreal forests, where wood and organic matter decay slowly, network-building EM fungi rule. About four in five trees in these regions associate with these fungi, the authors found, suggesting the webs found in local studies indeed permeate the soils of North America, Europe, and Asia. By contrast, in the warmer tropics where wood and organic matter decay quickly, AM fungi dominate. These fungi form smaller webs and do less intertree swapping, meaning the tropical wood wide web is likely more localized. About 90% of all tree species associate with AM fungi; the vast majority are clustered in the hyperdiverse tropics. Nitrogen fixers were most abundant in hot, dry places such as the desert of the U.S. Southwest. According to the data he gathered, Crowther suggests that about 10% of EM-associated trees could be replaced by AM-associated trees as the planet warms. "Microbes in forests dominated by AM fungi churn through carbon-containing organic matter faster, so they could liberate lots of heat-trapping carbon dioxide quickly, potentially accelerating a climate change process that is already happening at a frightening pace," the report says.

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Nintendo to shut down Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem mobile games in Belgium over loot box law fears

Eurogamer - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 11:37

Nintendo mobile games Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes will be shut down in Belgium at the end of August.

Both are being pulled over the "current unclear situation in Belgium regarding certain in-game revenue models". In other words, the country's recent stance on loot boxes.

Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem Heroes both have a premium currency you can buy with real-world money, and various in-game items you can purchase outright. But it's clear these are not the problem.

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Categories: Video Games

Blood & Truth once carried The Getaway name - now it's a PSVR system seller

Eurogamer - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 09:00

It's the small things that make all the difference. I'm near the end of the tutorial section of Blood & Truth, the new standalone PlayStation VR title from Sony's own London Studio, and between all the action and theatrics of a short run through the basics of this on-rails shooter it's been a struggle to catch my breath. Now I'm sitting in the passenger of a 4X4 alongside my newly liberated comrade, peering out the window to take potshots at bad lads on motorbikes - a standard video game set-piece, given new life by the wonder of VR - but that's not what makes it special. For that, strain your ears to hear beyond the gunshots and explosions to hear what's blasting out the radio: Tim Deluxe's 2002 banger It Just Won't Do.

It's an upbeat summer smile of a track, a number that every dance floor in the UK capital seemed to bounce to during the early 00s, and despite sitting in a jeep that's racing through an anonymous stretch of virtual desert it feels so very, very London. Maybe that shouldn't be a surprise, seeing what follows - a gangster-infested shooter that's steeped in the cinema of Guy Ritchie, taking place in a caricature of the capital that, despite its embellishments, feels authentic - or where Blood & Truth is being developed, in the heart of Soho.

Think back a little further to the history of this studio, and it all begins to make more sense. Back in 2002 - around about when It Just Won't Do was hitting the airwaves, in fact - this same developer was making its name with The Getaway, an open world action game cast firmly in the mold of Grand Theft Auto whose standout twist was its authentic depiction of London. The studio has charted an often fascinating course in the years since, working on EyeToy and SingStar, but my heart skipped a beat when I saw it had returned to its old stomping ground for The London Heist, perhaps the standout title in the VR Worlds collection that accompanied the launch of PlayStation VR.

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Google's Lung Cancer Detection AI Outperforms 6 Human Radiologists

Slashdot - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 09:00
Google AI researchers working with Northwestern Medicine created an AI model capable of detecting lung cancer from screening tests better than human radiologists with an average of eight years experience. VentureBeat reports: When analyzing a single CT scan, the model detected cancer 5% more often on average than a group of six human experts and was 11% more likely to reduce false positives. Humans and AI achieved similar results when radiologists were able to view prior CT scans. When it came to predicting the risk of cancer two years after a screening, the model was able to find cancer 9.5% more often compared to estimated radiologist performance laid out in the National Lung Screening Test (NLST) study. Detailed in research published today in Nature Medicine, the end-to-end deep learning model was used to predict whether a patient has lung cancer, generating a patient lung cancer malignancy risk score and identifying the location of the malignant tissue in the lungs. The model will be made available through the Google Cloud Healthcare API as Google continues trials and additional tests with partner organizations. The model was trained using more than 42,000 chest CT screening images taken from nearly 15,000 patients, 578 of whom developed cancer within a year, during a low-dose computed tomography LDCT study the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted in 2002. Results were then validated with data sets from Northwestern Medicine.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Generic Drugs May Not Be As Safe Or Effective As You Think

Slashdot - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: As the cost of prescription medication soars, consumers are increasingly taking generic drugs: low-cost alternatives to brand-name medicines. Often health insurance plans require patients to switch to generics as a way of controlling costs. But journalist Katherine Eban warns that some of these medications might not be as safe, or effective, as we think. Eban has covered the pharmaceutical industry for more than 10 years. She notes that most of the generic medicines being sold in the U.S. are manufactured overseas, mostly in India and China. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that it holds foreign plants to the same standards as U.S. drugmakers, but Eban's new book, Bottle of Lies, challenges that notion. She writes that the FDA often announces its overseas inspections weeks in advance, which allows plants where generic drugs are made the chance to fabricate data and results. "These plants know that [the FDA inspectors are] coming," Eban says. "I discovered [some overseas drug companies] would actually ... alter documents, shred them, invent them, in some cases even steaming them overnight to make them look old." As a result, Eban says, generic drugs sometimes go to market in the U.S. without proper vetting. She describes the FDA as "overwhelmed and underresourced" in its efforts to ensure the safety of overseas drug production. Eban advises consumers to research who manufactures their generics and look up any problems that regulators have found out about them. But some consumers may find they are not allowed by their health plan to switch to alternatives, because of cost. In a statement to NPR, the FDA said that Americans "can be confident in the quality of the products the FDA approves" and notes it has "conducted a number of unannounced inspections" at foreign plants over the past several years.

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Intel Performance Hit 5x Harder Than AMD After Spectre, Meltdown Patches

Slashdot - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 04:03
Phoronix has conducted a series of tests to show just how much the Spectre and Meltdown patches have impacted the raw performance of Intel and AMD CPUs. While the patches have resulted in performance decreases across the board, ranging from virtually nothing to significant depending on the application, it appears that Intel received the short end of the stick as its CPUs have been hit five times harder than AMD, according to ExtremeTech. From the report: The collective impact of enabling all patches is not a positive for Intel. While the impacts vary tremendously from virtually nothing to significant on an application-by-application level, the collective whack is about 15-16 percent on all Intel CPUs without Hyper-Threading disabled. Disabling increases the overall performance impact to 20 percent (for the 7980XE), 24.8 percent (8700K) and 20.5 percent (6800K). The AMD CPUs are not tested with HT disabled, because disabling SMT isn't a required fix for the situation on AMD chips, but the cumulative impact of the decline is much smaller. AMD loses ~3 percent with all fixes enabled. The impact of these changes is enough to change the relative performance weighting between the tested solutions. With no fixes applied, across its entire test suite, the CPU performance ranking is (from fastest to slowest): 7980XE (288), 8700K (271), 2990WX (245), 2700X (219), 6800K. (200). With the full suite of mitigations enabled, the CPU performance ranking is (from fastest to slowest): 2990WX (238), 7980XE (231), 2700X (213), 8700K (204), 6800K (159). In closing, ExtremeTech writes: "AMD, in other words, now leads the aggregate performance metrics, moving from 3rd and 4th to 1st and 3rd. This isn't the same as winning every test, and since the degree to which each test responds to these changes varies, you can't claim that the 2990WX is now across-the-board faster than the 7980XE in the Phoronix benchmark suite. It isn't. But the cumulative impact of these patches could result in more tests where Intel and AMD switch rankings as a result of performance impacts that only hit one vendor."

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Ecuador Hands Over Julian Assange's Belongings To US

Slashdot - Tue, 21/05/2019 - 03:25
Slashdot reader Joce640k shares a report from the BBC: Ecuador has begun giving the U.S. some of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange's possessions left behind following his stay in its London embassy. The material includes manuscripts, legal papers, medical records and electronic equipment. Mr Assange's lawyer said the move was "completely unprecedented in the history of asylum." "Ecuador is committing a flagrant violation of the most basic norms of the institution of asylum by handing over all the asylee's personal belongings indiscriminately to the country that he was being protected from," added lawyer Aitor Martinez. WikiLeaks' Editor-in-Chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, said that there was "no doubt" that Ecuador had "tampered" with the belongings it had sent to the U.S.

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