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2022-11-24 22:03:56| Engadget

Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk says a "general amnesty" for banned accounts will begin next week for those who "have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam." He polled users on whether Twitter should offer the amnesty, seemingly overlooking the fact that such polls can be easily gamed by bots. Over 72 percent of the 3.2 million votes approved of Musk's amnesty proposal. Musk reinstated Donald Trump's account last weekend after a similar poll. Trump has yet to tweet after getting his account back, though he has continued to post on his own app, Truth Social. Late last week, Musk restored the accounts of comedian Kathy Griffin (who had been needling Musk before her account was suspended), right-wing provocateur Jordan Peterson and conservative satire website Babylon Bee.The people have spoken.Amnesty begins next week.Vox Populi, Vox Dei. Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2022The latest twist in the Twitter saga comes a day after the company fired another 50 or so engineers without notice, according to reports. They were dismissed just after the company started a code review program, whereby engineers are asked to submit samples of their work on a weekly basis. Dozens of engineers were fired by email the night before Thanksgiving because their code is not satisfactory, according to The Verge's Alex Heath.Others received a warning about their performance. Note that not meeting expectations could result in your termination of employmentplease use this opportunity to restore our confidence and demonstrate your contributions to the team and company," that warning email read.The fired engineers were reportedly offered four weeks of severance pay if they sign a separation agreement and waive any claims against Twitter. They had remained at the company after Musk laid off around half of the workforce. Last week, he asked the remaining employees to commit to working at his vision for an "extremely hardcore" Twitter 2.0. Those who opted out (around 1,200 of the 3,900 who were still at the company as of early last week) were let go with the promise of three months of severance pay.The latest batch of firings occurred just two days after Musk is said to have told employees that layoffs were done and that Twitter is hiring, with a focus on "people who are great at writing software." One of the engineers Twitter turfed out on Wednesday is Ikuhiro Ihara, who led the drive to double the tweet character limit to 280 back in 2017. Twitter also let go Ying Xiao, a senior staff machine learning research scientist who a colleague described to Platfomer's ZoŽ Schiffer as the best ML modeler around. It appears that some of the fired engineers were on H1B visas and now face a race to find a new job if they want to stay in the US.One of the people fired Musks latest purge was Ikuhiro Ihara, a highly respected senior software engineer who helped lead the push to expand tweets to 280 characters. https://t.co/6NYEV2Pl4b Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) November 24, 2022Schiffer also reported that Twitter cut holiday pay for its remaining contractors right before a holiday weekend. That move came not even two weeks after the company culled thousands of its contractors. Musk is said to have slashed perks for employees this week too, including daycare allowances, home internet costs and training effectively cutting workers' compensation packages.These measures are part of Musk's intense push to slash costs at Twitter, which owes at least $1 billion in annual interest payments on the loans he took out to help buy the company. Earlier this week, it was reported that Twitter has been stiffing vendors and contractors on payments, with some owed millions of dollars in back pay. Twitter no longer has a communications department that can be reached for comment.Have a great Thanksgiving! Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2022


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2022-11-24 21:00:08| Engadget

Robots that can whack a golf ball down a fairway aren't exactly new, but building one that can play the nuanced short game is a more complex problem. Researchers at Paderborn University in Germany have done just that with Golfi, a machine that uses a neural network to figure out how to line up a putt and how hard to hit the ball to get it into the hole from anywhere on the green.The robot takes a snapshot of the green with a Microsoft Kinect 3D camera and it simulates thousands of random shots taken from different positions. It takes factors like the turf's rolling resistance, the ball's weight and the starting velocity into account. Paderborn doctoral student Annika Junker told IEEE Research that training Golfi on simulated golf shots takes five minutes, compared with 30-40 hours were the team to feed data from real-life shots into the system.Once Golfi has figured out the shot it should take, it rolls over to the ball and uses a belt-driven gear shaft with a putter attached to make the putt. The robot doesn't get the ball in the hole every time, though. Junker said the robot nailed the shot around 60-70 percent of the time. That's still a better accuracy rate than most amateur golfers and at least you won't see Golfi fly off the handle like Happy Gilmore if it misses.However, Golfi sometimes drove over the ball and moved it out of position. The researchers have only tested the robot in the lab, so real-world conditions, like greens with divots or steep slopes, may pose problems for a system that relies on a bird's-eye view.In any case, the researchers didn't set out to build a robot capable of competing with PGA Tour pros. They hope that the techniques they used in Golfi could be used for other robotics applications. You can also transfer that to other problems, where you have some knowledge about the system and could model parts of it to obtain some data, but you cant model everything, Niklas Fittkau, another Paderborn University doctoral student and co-lead author of a paper on Golfi, told IEEE Research.Back in 2016, a different robot called LDRIC sank a hole-in-one at a PGA event (albeit on the fifth attempt). I wonder who footed the bill for a round of drinks at the clubhouse afterward.


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2022-11-24 19:30:29| Engadget

Google has disclosed several security flaws for phones that have Mali GPUs, such as those with Exynos chipsets. The company's Project Zero team says it flagged the problems to ARM (which produces the GPUs) back in the summer. ARM resolved the issues on its end in July and August. However, smartphone manufacturers including Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo and Google itself hadn't deployed patches to fix the vulnerabilities as of earlier this week, Project Zero said.Researchers identified five new issues in June and July and promptly flagged them to ARM. "One of these issues led to kernel memory corruption, one led to physical memory addresses being disclosed to userspace and the remaining three led to a physical page use-after-free condition," Project Zero's Ian Beer wrote in a blog post. "These would enable an attacker to continue to read and write physical pages after they had been returned to the system."Beer noted that it would be possible for a hacker to gain full access to a system as they'd be able to bypass the permissions model on Android and gain "broad access" to a user's data. The attacker could do so by forcing the kernel to reuse the afore-mentioned physical pages as page tables.Project Zero found that, three months after ARM fixed these issues, all of the team's test devices were still vulnerable to the flaws. As of Tuesday, the issues were not mentioned "in any downstream security bulletins" from Android manufacturers.Engadget has contacted Google, Samsung, Oppo and Xiaomi to ask when they will deploy the fixes to their Android devices and why it has taken so long for them to do so. As SamMobile notes, Samsung's Galaxy S22 series devices and the company's Snapdragon-powered handsets aren't affected by these vulnerabilities.


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