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News Source Slashdot:Hardware

Pipeline Attacked by Ransomware Has Now Resumed Normal Operations
Though halted last week by ransomware, America's largest gasoline pipeline announced Saturday that it's resumed normal operations, reports the Associated Press, "delivering fuel to its markets, including a large swath of the East Coast."Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline had begun the process of restarting the pipeline's operations on Wednesday evening, warning it could take several days for the supply chain to return to normal. "Since that time, we have returned the system to normal operations, delivering millions of gallons per hour to the markets we serve," Colonial Pipeline said in a tweet Saturday. Those markets include Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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

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Framework's Repairable Laptop Is Up For Preorder
Framework is one of an increasing number of companies working to address planned obsolescence by creating products that are incredibly customizable and easy to repair. Today, the company's Framework Laptop is up for preorder, starting at $999 and shipping at the end of July. TechCrunch reports: There are three basic configurations -- Base, Performance and Professional, ranging from $999 to $1,999, upgrading from an Intel Core i5, 8GB of Ram and 256GB of storage to a Core i7 and 32GB/1TB. Windows also gets upgraded from Home to Pro at the top level. At $749, the company offers a barebones shell, where users can plug in their own internals. Other upgrades include: "On top of that, the Framework Laptop is deeply customizable in unique ways. Our Expansion Card system lets you choose the ports you want and which side you want them on, selecting from four at a time of USB-C, USB-A, HDMI, DisplayPort, MicroSD, ultra-fast 250GB and 1TB storage, and more. Magnetic-attach bezels are color-customizable to match your style, and the keyboard language can be swapped too."

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Cheap, Highly Efficient New EV Motor Uses No Magnets
"An EV motor has been developed that uses no magnets, thus lessening the United States' reliance on Chinese magnets (which make up 97% of the world's supply)," writes Slashdot reader nickwinlund77, adding: "I wonder what the motor's performance is like on high grade roads?" New Atlas reports: German company Mahle has just announced a new electric motor that sounds like it solves a lot of problems in a very tidy manner. The new Mahle design uses no magnets, instead using powered coils in its rotor. Unlike previous efforts, it transfers power to the spinning rotor using contactless induction -- so there are basically no wear surfaces. This should make it extremely durable -- not that electric motors have a reputation for needing much maintenance. The lack of expensive metals should make it cheaper to manufacture than typical permanent-magnet motors. Mahle says the ability to tune and change the parameters of the rotor's magnetism instead of being stuck with what a permanent magnet offers has allowed its engineers to achieve efficiencies above 95 percent right through the range of operating speeds -- "a level that has only been achieved by Formula E racing cars." It's also particularly efficient at high speeds, so it could help squeeze a few extra miles out of a battery in normal use. The company says it'll scale nicely from sizes relevant to compact cars up to commercial vehicles. "Our magnet-free motor can certainly be described as a breakthrough, because it provides several advantages that have not yet been combined in a product of this type," says Dr. Martin Berger, Mahle's VP of Corporate Research and Advanced Engineering. "As a result, we can offer our customers a product with outstanding efficiency at a comparatively low cost." Mass production is about two and a half years away, according to IEEE Spectrum, and Mahle has not yet nominated which auto manufacturers it's dealing with, but test samples are already starting to circulate.

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System76 Unveils Open Source 'Launch Configurable Keyboard' for Linux, Windows, and macOS
System76 today unveiled its newest product -- the "Launch Configurable Keyboard." It is a mechanical keyboard made in the USA with a focus on open source. The Launch has both open source firmware and hardware. Even the configuration software -- which runs on Linux, Windows, and macOS -- is open source. From a report: "With a wide swath of customization options, the Launch is flexible to a variety of needs and use cases. The keyboard's thoughtful design keeps everything within reach, vastly reducing awkward hand contortions. Launch comes with additional keycaps and a convenient keycap puller, meaning one can swap keys based on personal workflow preferences to maximize efficiency. Launch also features a novel split Space Bar, which allows the user to swap out one Space Bar keycap for Shift, Backspace, or Function to reduce hand fatigue while typing. Launch uses only three keycap sizes to vastly expand configuration options," says System76. The keyboard, which has a removable USB-C cable for connectivity, is priced at $285.

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Researchers Have Developed a Way To Wirelessly Charge Vehicles On the Road
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Jalopnik: [R]esearchers at Cornell University, led by Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Khurram Afridi, have developed technology that would allow vehicles to be charged on the road while in motion. It would essentially turn U.S. roadways into wireless chargers. Afrindi says he has been working on the tech for the last seven years. Here's how it would work, according to Afrindi via Business Insider: "'Highways would have a charging lane, sort of like a high occupancy lane,' Afridi told Insider. 'If you were running out of battery you would move into the charging lane. It would be able to identify which car went into the lane and it would later send you a bill.' The science behind Afridi's project goes back over 100 years to Nikola Tesla, the inventor who used alternating electric fields to power lights without plugging them in. Afridi's technology would embed special metal plates in the road that are connected to a powerline and a high frequency inverter. The plates will create alternating electric fields that attract and repel a pair of matching plates attached to the bottom of the EV.No need to worry about stopping to charge unless you're down for the night. They have run into a problem, however. They can't seem to find the parts that can handle the high levels of power needed to charge vehicles enough while they are in motion. It would have to be a material that's not only weatherproof but able to withstand high voltage and heat from the passing vehicles."

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Biden Administration Approves Nation's First Major Offshore Wind Farm
The Biden administration gave approval Tuesday to the nation's first commercial-scale offshore wind farm, which is scheduled to begin construction this summer. The New York Times reports: he Vineyard Wind project calls for up to 84 turbines to be installed in the Atlantic Ocean about 12 nautical miles off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Mass. Together, they could generate about 800 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 400,000 homes. The administration estimates that the work will create about 3,600 jobs. The project would dwarf the scale of the country's two existing wind farms, off the coasts of Virginia and Rhode Island. Together, they produce just 42 megawatts of electricity. In addition to Vineyard Wind, a dozen other offshore wind projects along the East Coast are now under federal review. The Interior Department has estimated that by the end of the decade, some 2,000 turbines could be churning in the wind along the coast from Massachusetts to North Carolina. Electricity generated by the Vineyard Wind turbines will travel via cables buried six feet below the ocean floor to Cape Cod, where they would connect to a substation and feed into the New England grid. The company said that it expects to begin delivering wind-powered electricity in 2023. The Biden administration said that it intended to fast-track permits for other projects off the Atlantic Coast and that it would offer $3 billion in federal loan guarantees for offshore wind projects and invest in upgrades to ports across the United States to support wind turbine construction. [...] The administration has pledged to build 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind in the United States by 2030. It's a target the White House has said would spark $12 billion in capital investments annually, supporting 77,000 direct and indirect jobs by the end of the decade. If Mr. Biden's offshore wind targets are met, it could avoid 78 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, while creating new jobs and even new industries along the way, the administration said.

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California Ban On Gas-Powered Cars Would Rewrite Plug-In Hybrid Rules
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: As of now, California wants to implement an 80-20 mix where 80% of new cars sold will be totally electric or hydrogen-powered, and 20% may still feature a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Essentially, automakers will still be able to plop an engine under the hood come 2035. However, PHEVs will need to follow far more stringent definitions of the powertrain. California wants any plug-in hybrid to achieve 50 miles of all-electric range to meet the categorization -- a huge ask. Only two plug-in hybrids in recent years meet that criteria: the Chevrolet Volt (no longer on sale) and the Polestar 1 (soon to exit production). To achieve such a lofty range, automakers need to fit larger batteries, and when you're talking about a big battery and an internal-combustion engine, things get complex (and costly) quickly. But, that's not all the state will need. Future PHEVs to qualify under these regulations will need to be capable of driving under only electric power throughout their charged range. So, no software to flick on the engine for a few moments to recoup some lost energy. While these regulations would actually benefit drivers to shift PHEVs away from "compliance cars" to something far more usable, the complexities may just turn automakers to focus exclusively on EVs. It all remains to be seen, however since the plans remain open for public comment until June 11 of this year. After that, the board will vote and detail a full proposal later this year.

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Intel Unveils Full Tiger Lake-H Processor Line-Up For Higher Performance Laptops
MojoKid writes: In January, Intel officially announced its Tiger Lake-H mobile platform, but today disclosed full details on the new, higher-end variant of Tiger Lake manufactured using 10nm SuperFIN technology, that brings with it a few significant platform enhancements beyond just its clock speed and core count boost. Intel is refreshing the lineup with higher-power and higher-performance Tiger Lake-H45 processors, with up to 8 physical cores (16 threads). In addition, the CPUs feature 20 reconfigurable PCI Express 4.0 lanes attached directly to the processor, which enable PCIe 4.0 NVMe RAID -- a first for any mobile platform. The platform features all of the latest IO and connectivity technologies, like Killer Wi-Fi 6 / 6E, Thunderbolt 4, and support for Resizable BAR. There are an array of consumer and commercial Tiger Lake-H based 11th Gen Intel Core H-series processors coming down the pipeline. The top-end consumer SKU is the Core i9-11980HK, which is an 8-core / 16-thread processor, with a base clock of 2.6GHz and maximum turbo clock of 5GHz on one or two cores. What also makes this particular processor interesting is that it is fully unlocked and overclockable via Intel's XTU utility. Intel has shipped millions of units volume to laptop OEMs already and expects to have laptops in market from all of the majors this month.

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Harley-Davidson Launches All-Electric Motorcycle Brand 'LiveWire'
Harley-Davidson on Monday launched an all-electric motorcycle brand "LiveWire," the latest effort by the company to ramp up bets on the rapidly growing electric-vehicle market. Reuters reports: Named after Harley's first electric motorbike, which was unveiled in [2014], the "LiveWire" division is slated to launch its first branded motorcycle in July. The company had said in February it would create a separate electric vehicle-focused division, as it aims to attract the next generation of younger and more environmentally conscious riders. "We are seizing the opportunity to lead and define the market in EV," Chief Executive Officer Jochen Zeitz said in a statement on Monday. "LiveWire also plans to innovate and develop technology that will be applicable to Harley-Davidson electric motorcycles in the future." "There's a new logo and a new 'virtual' headquarters, with engineering teams stationed in Silicon Valley and Milwaukee," notes The Verge. "LiveWire will work with Harley-Davidson dealerships as an independent brand, with a blend of digital and physical retail formats."

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Electric Cars 'Will Be Cheaper To Produce Than Fossil Fuel Vehicles By 2027'
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Electric cars and vans will be cheaper to produce than conventional, fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2027, and tighter emissions regulations could put them in pole position to dominate all new car sales by the middle of the next decade, research has found. By 2026, larger vehicles such as electric sedans and SUVs will be as cheap to produce as petrol and diesel models, according to forecasts from BloombergNEF, with small cars reaching the threshold the following year. The falling cost of producing batteries for electric vehicles, combined with dedicated production lines in carmarkers' plants, will make them cheaper to buy, on average, within the next six years than conventional cars, even before any government subsidies, BloombergNEF found. The new study, commissioned by Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based non-profit organization that campaigns for cleaner transport in Europe, predicts new battery prices will fall by 58% between 2020 and 2030 to $58 per kilowatt hour. A reduction in battery costs to below $100 per kWh, is viewed as an important step towards greater take-up of fully electric vehicles, and would largely remove the financial appeal of hybrid electric vehicles, which combine a battery with a conventional engine.

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US Scrambles to Keep Fuel Flowing After Pipeline Cyberattack. Russian Cybercriminals Suspected
A ransomware attack affecting a pipeline that supplies 45% of the fuel supplies for the Eastern U.S. has now led U.S. president Biden to declare a regional emergency providing "regulatory relief" to expand fuel delivery by other routes. Axios reports:Friday night's cyberattack is "the most significant, successful attack on energy infrastructure" known to have occurred in the U.S., notes energy researcher Amy Myers Jaffe, per Politico. It follows other significant cyberattacks on the federal government and U.S. companies in recent months... 5,500 miles of pipeline have been shut down in response to the attack. The BBC reports:Experts say fuel prices are likely to rise 2-3% on Monday, but the impact will be far worse if it goes on for much longer... Colonial Pipeline said it is working with law enforcement, cyber-security experts and the Department of Energy to restore service. On Sunday evening it said that although its four mainlines remain offline, some smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational... Independent oil market analyst Gaurav Sharma told the BBC there is a lot of fuel now stranded at refineries in Texas. "Unless they sort it out by Tuesday, they're in big trouble," said Sharma. "The first areas to be impacted would be Atlanta and Tennessee, then the domino effect goes up to New York..." The temporary waiver issued by the Department of Transportation enables oil products to be shipped in tankers up to New York, but this would not be anywhere near enough to match the pipeline's capacity, Mr Sharma warned. UPDATE (5/10): "On Monday, U.S. officials sought to soothe concerns about price spikes or damage to the economy by stressing that the fuel supply had so far not been disrupted," reports the Associated Press, "and the company said it was working toward 'substantially restoring operational service' by the weekend." CNN reports that a criminal group originating from Russia named DarkSide "is believed to be responsible for a ransomware cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, according to a former senior cyber official. DarkSide typically targets non-Russian speaking countries, the source said... Bloomberg and The Washington Post have also reported on DarkSide's purported involvement in the cyberattack..." If so, NBC News adds some sobering thoughts:Although Russian hackers often freelance for the Kremlin, early indications suggest this was a criminal scheme — not an attack by a nation state, the sources said. But the fact that Colonial had to shut down the country's largest gasoline pipeline underscores just how vulnerable American's cyber infrastructure is to both criminals and national adversaries, such as Russia, China and Iran, experts say. "This could be the most impactful ransomware attack in history, a cyber disaster turning into a real-world catastrophe," said Andrew Rubin, CEO and co-founder of Illumio, a cyber security firm... If the culprit turns out to be a Russian criminal group, it will underscore that Russia gives free reign to criminal hackers who target the West, said Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of the cyber firm CrowdStrike and now executive chairman of a think tank, the Silverado Policy Accelerator. "Whether they work for the state or not is increasingly irrelevant, given Russia's obvious policy of harboring and tolerating cyber crime," he said. Citing multiple sources, the BBC reports that DarkSide "infiltrated Colonial's network on Thursday and took almost 100GB of data hostage. After seizing the data, the hackers locked the data on some computers and servers, demanding a ransom on Friday. If it is not paid, they are threatening to leak it onto the internet... " The BBC also shares some thoughts from Digital Shadows, a London-based cyber-security firm that tracks global cyber-criminal groups to help enterprises limit their exposure online:Digital Shadows thinks the Colonial Pipeline cyber-attack has come about due to the coronavirus pandemic — the rise of engineers remotely accessing control systems for the pipeline from home. James Chappell, co-founder and chief innovation officer at Digital Shadows, believes DarkSide bought account login details relating to remote desktop software like TeamViewer and Microsoft Remote Desktop. He says it is possible for anyone to look up the login portals for computers connected to the internet on search engines like Shodan, and then "have-a-go" hackers just keep trying usernames and passwords until they get some to work. "We're seeing a lot of victims now, this is seriously a big problem now," said Mr Chappell.

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'Despite Chip Shortage, Chip Innovation Is Booming'
The New York Times reports on surprising silver linings of the global chip shortage:Even as a chip shortage is causing trouble for all sorts of industries, the semiconductor field is entering a surprising new era of creativity, from industry giants to innovative start-ups seeing a spike in funding from venture capitalists that traditionally avoided chip makers. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and Samsung Electronics, for example, have managed the increasingly difficult feat of packing more transistors on each slice of silicon. IBM on Thursday announced another leap in miniaturization, a sign of continued U.S. prowess in the technology race. Perhaps most striking, what was a trickle of new chip companies is now approaching a flood. Equity investors for years viewed semiconductor companies as too costly to set up, but in 2020 plowed more than $12 billion into 407 chip-related companies, according to CB Insights. Though a tiny fraction of all venture capital investments, that was more than double what the industry received in 2019 and eight times the total for 2016. Synopsys, the biggest supplier of software that engineers use to design chip, is tracking more than 200 start-ups designing chips for artificial intelligence, the ultrahot technology powering everything from smart speakers to self-driving cars. Cerebras, a start-up that sells massive artificial-intelligence processors that span an entire silicon wafer, for example, has attracted more than $475 million. Groq, a start-up whose chief executive previously helped design an artificial-intelligence chip for Google, has raised $367 million. "It's a bloody miracle," said Jim Keller, a veteran chip designer whose resume includes stints at Apple, Tesla and Intel and who now works at the A.I. chip start-up Tenstorrent. "Ten years ago you couldn't do a hardware start-up...." More companies are concluding that software running on standard Intel-style microprocessors is not the best solution for all problems. For that reason, companies like Cisco Systems and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have long designed specialty chips for products such as networking gear. Giants like Apple, Amazon and Google more recently have gotten into the act. Google's YouTube unit recently disclosed its first internally developed chip to speed video encoding. And Volkswagen even said last week that it would develop its own processor to manage autonomous driving.

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A New Printer Uses Sawdust To Print Wooden Objects
A new printer called Forust is using scrap wood to 3D print wooden objects that are as structurally sound as regular carved wood. Created by Andrew Jeffery and a team of researchers at Desktop Metal, the printer prints using fine sawdust that is formed into solid objects. Gizmodo reports: The printer works similarly to an inkjet printer and squirts a binding agent onto a layer of sawdust. Like most 3D printers, the object rises out of the bed of sawdust and then, when complete, can be sanded and finished like regular wood. Jeffrey sees the system as a way to save trees. "Two years ago we started looking into how we might be able to 3D print in new material," he said. "Wood waste was one of the materials we started with early on and realized it could be repurposed and upcycled with 3D printing technology. From there, we focused on building out the process using wood byproducts in order to create real wood-crafted results. We formed the company really to save forests."

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IBM Creates First 2nm Chip
An anonymous reader shares a report: Every decade is the decade that tests the limits of Moore's Law, and this decade is no different. With the arrival of Extreme Ultra Violet (EUV) technology, the intricacies of multipatterning techniques developed on previous technology nodes can now be applied with the finer resolution that EUV provides. That, along with other more technical improvements, can lead to a decrease in transistor size, enabling the future of semiconductors. To that end, today IBM is announcing it has created the world's first 2 nanometer node chip. Just to clarify here, while the process node is being called '2 nanometer,' nothing about transistor dimensions resembles a traditional expectation of what 2nm might be. In the past, the dimension used to be an equivalent metric for 2D feature size on the chip, such as 90nm, 65nm, and 40nm. However with the advent of 3D transistor design with FinFETs and others, the process node name is now an interpretation of an 'equivalent 2D transistor' design. Some of the features on this chip are likely to be low single digits in actual nanometers, such as transistor fin leakage protection layers, but it's important to note the disconnect in how process nodes are currently named. Often the argument pivots to transistor density as a more accurate metric, and this is something that IBM is sharing with us. Today's announcement states that IBM's 2nm development will improve performance by 45% at the same power, or 75% energy at the same performance, compared to modern 7nm processors. IBM is keen to point out that it was the first research institution to demonstrate 7nm in 2015 and 5nm in 2017, the latter of which upgraded from FinFETs to nanosheet technologies that allow for a greater customization of the voltage characteristics of individual transistors. IBM states that the technology can fit '50 billion transistors onto a chip the size of a fingernail.' We reached out to IBM to ask for clarification on what the size of a fingernail was, given that internally we were coming up with numbers from 50 square millimeters to 250 square millimeters. IBM's press relations stated that a fingernail in this context is 150 square millimeters. That puts IBM's transistor density at 333 million transistors per square millimeter (MTr/mm^2).

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