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The world’s leading search engine company is thinking about becoming a car manufacturer to build self-driving cars. Oh, and maybe Google will build a space elevator, or an army of data-collecting robots.
The New York Times revealed this week that Google maintains a top secret lab hidden somewhere in Silicon Valley that is actively working on all these projects and many more. It’s like a cross between Xerox PARC and Google Co-founder Sergey Brin’s own personal LEGOLAND.
Some of the products make more sense for a search engine company. For example, Google X is reportedly working on Internet-connected refrigerators that order milk for you when you’re running low, Internet connected dinner plates that would auto-post what you’re eating on Google+ and Internet-connected clothing.
Google already announced that it would unveil an Internet-connected light bulb that can be controlled from an Android-powered cell phone.
This is all very interesting. But it raises the questions: Should Google really become a car company? Should an Internet company have a space program?Why All of Google X Is a ‘Space Program’
What drives all these projects is something I would call Google’s culture of “educated naiveté.”
Google knows and actually acts on the understanding that inventions often happen semi-accidentally. You set out to invent a new kind of vacuum tube, but accidentally invent the microwave oven.
A similar thing happens in business. You set out to build a podcasting company, but then a minor project called Twitter becomes more important than podcasting.
Google also understands that technology-related businesses rise and fall. Companies that fail to innovate simply fade away into irrelevance or non-existence. The only hope for companies like Google is to constantly invent new things.
And there’s one other thing Google understands: Success results from the things you learn from failure. So the quicker you fail, the sooner you succeed.
A research lab like Google X exists to try out a gazillion ideas. Most of them will fail. If they’re worth pursuing, the failures can be tried again and again until something that can benefit Google’s business succeeds, at which time it can come out of the secret lab and into the light of day.
If I had to bet, I would bet that Google will never become a car-maker. However, I would also bet that something interesting will come out of their self-driving car project.
In truth, the car functions as a proof-of-concept for a boat-load of interesting technologies, which can be used in all kinds of applications. For example, they could be used to improve maps, or cell phone location technologies. They could improve road safety, or be used by humanoid robots to get around autonomously.
Who knows? I don’t. And more importantly, Google doesn’t, either. However, the singular goal of creating a self-driving car focuses the research efforts on a long list of really hard problems.
In this sense, Google X is just like the US space program that put astronauts on the moon. In solving the myriad problems inherent in landing men on the moon and bringing them back alive, the Apollo program invented technologies that greatly enhanced medicine, food processing, home insulation, water filtering, sports training and power tools.
Many of the projects at Google X are just like the US Apollo program. The stated goals are often these big, impractical ideas. But the ultimate product is likely to be a great number of unpredictable technologies.Why Google X Is All About Google’s Core Competency
What do search engines and robot cars have in common? Everything, actually.
Google’s core competency is the construction of sophisticated algorithms that do useful things with massive data sets.
And what can you do with this ability? The answer is: What can’t you do?
That’s an over-simplification, but ultimately that’s what most of those nutty Google X projects have in common.
In the 1960s, the US decided to think really big and put a man on the moon. They did, and the result was not only a breathtaking achievement that otherwise nobody else would have done, but also an astronomical number of technology benefits that nobody could have foreseen.
And now Google is one of the companies that has a “space program” of its own, thinking big and dramatically increasing the likelihood of accidental invention and discovery.
And who knows? Maybe the next time we put a man on the moon, he’ll take the elevator.
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2024 has been a busy time for space launches—with the first all-private space mission taking off last week and NASA and SpaceX’s Crew-4 launch to the International Space Station rescheduled for later this month. Of a more international note, there’s a new player emerging in the space industry. Launching this year on a SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Finland will soon send its first science satellite, Foresail-1, into space.
Finland has developed radar satellites in the past, but Foresail-1 will be the first to collect data for science. Developed by the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research of Sustainable Space, the nanosatellite, which weighs about nine pounds and resembles a metal milk carton, will seek new details about the radiation environment in Earth’s atmosphere. This unique area padding the planet is where different space radiation fields coexist. Exposure to these rays have been known to put astronauts at risk for radiation sickness, increased risk of cancer, and degenerative diseases.
The next generation of space exploration is all about sustainability, says Jaan Praks, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Aalto University whose team helped plan the mission and built Foresail-1. That’s why Finland is starting their foray into space on a smaller scale.
“We are pushing the borders with platform technology,” he says. “We are looking [to] operate the satellite for at least five years and even beyond, which is unusual for such a small satellite.”
Because the pandemic made it difficult to acquire the components they needed to build the technology, Praks says Foresail-1 took about four years to be completed, and its original launch date had to be pushed back by a year. But the extra time gave the team room to further develop and integrate tools that will improve the odds of mission success.
[Related: Ukraine was about to revive its space program. Then Russia invaded.]
Foresail-1’s primary payload is a particle telescope, which will be used to measure electrons exiting the radiation atmosphere in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Its second, and arguably more impressive equipment, will be an electrostatic plasma brake, a device which will prevent the craft from becoming space debris by pushing it down out of orbit to burn up in the atmosphere. It usually takes years for space debris to fall into Earth’s atmosphere, but using a plasma brake can flip that time into two months.
One of Foresail-1’s technological goals is to demonstrate the usefulness of this plasma brake. The way the plasma brake works is it “increases the drag by using electromagnetic fields,” explains Praks, which by slowing it down, brings the satellite’s orbit close enough to Earth that it falls and eventually burns in the atmosphere.
After a few months of scientific observation, researchers will use the brake and about 200 feet of tether, to lower the satellite a few dozen miles further down into LEO, where it will stay for the rest of its mission life.
He says that this new de-orbiting technique will allow Finnish researchers to “probe more versatile regions of earth’s environment.” If successful, it will be the first time a propellant-less nanosatellite will demonstrate this maneuver. The satellite’s plans will also be available as an open-source project that can be used in future missions.
[Related: Hermes will be NASA’s mini-weather station for tracking solar activity]
While the satellite is Finland’s first to make scientific observations, the country does have an extensive history of space collaboration. The small nation has been a member of the European Space Agency since 1995, but has only recently become an important partner in many large-scale, international space operations. For instance, Finland is one of the largest providers of commercial radar imaging satellites in the world, and at times, NASA has used Finnish technology to provide Mars missions, like Perseverance, with pressure sensors to help take atmospheric measurements on the Red Planet.
Currently, Finland lacks its own space agency—the Finnish Space Committee only handles national space policy and strategy, not mission creation or development. The new satellite mission marks the first step towards building a more robust agency that can support a number of ambitious projects, says Praks.
“I hope we are driving towards our own Finnish space program,” says Praks. “Having our own small program will provide even more material for future missions with the bigger satellites [to reach further out] in the solar system.”
Correction (April 18, 2023): This story has been updated to correct the amount of tether that will be used in the braking mechanism, from 60 feet to 200 feet. We regret the error.
Recent versions of Orbit Downloader, a popular Windows program for downloading embedded media content and other types of files from websites, turns computers into bots and uses them to launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, according to security researchers.
The rogue component is downloaded from a location on the program’s official website, chúng tôi the ESET researchers said. An encrypted configuration file containing a list of websites and IP (Internet Protocol) addresses to serve as targets for attacks is downloaded from the same site, they said.
Orbit Downloader has been developed since at least 2006 and judging by download statistics from software distribution sites like Cnet’s chúng tôi and chúng tôi it is, or used to be, a popular program.
Orbit Downloader was downloaded almost 36 million times from chúng tôi to date and around 12,500 times last week. Its latest version is 126.96.36.199 and was released in May.
In a review of the program, a Cnet editor noted that it installs additional “junk programs” and suggested alternatives to users who need a dedicated download management application.
When they discovered the DDoS component, the ESET researchers were actually investigating the “junk programs” installed by Orbit Downloader in order to determine if the program should be flagged as a “potentially unwanted application,” known in the industry as PUA.
“What is unusual, though, is to see a popular utility containing additional code for performing Denial of Service (DoS) attacks,” they said.
The rogue Orbit Downloader DDoS component is now detected by ESET products as a Trojan program called Win32/DDoS.Orbiter.A. It is capable of launching several types of attacks, the researchers said.
First, it checks if a utility called WinPcap is installed on the computer. This is a legitimate third-party utility that provides low-level network functionality, including sending and capturing network packets. It is not bundled with Orbit Downloader, but can be installed on computers by other applications that need it.
If WinPcap is installed, Orbit’s DDoS component uses the tool to send TCP SYN packets on port 80 (HTTP) to the IP addresses specified in its configuration file. “This kind of attack is known as a SYN flood,” the ESET researchers said.
If WinPcap is not present, the rogue component directly sends HTTP connection requests on port 80 to the targeted machines, as well as UDP packets on port 53 (DNS).
The attacks also use IP spoofing techniques, the source IP addresses for the requests falling into IP address ranges that are hardcoded in the DLL file.
“On a test computer in our lab with a gigabit ethernet port, HTTP connection requests were sent at a rate of about 140,000 packets per second, with falsified source addresses largely appearing to come from IP ranges allocated to Vietnam,” the ESET researchers said.
This suggests that Orbit Downloader might have had DDoS functionality since before version 188.8.131.52. The chúng tôi file is not bundled with any older Orbit Downloader installers, but it might have been downloaded post-installation, like the DLL component.
This is a possibility, but it can’t be demonstrated with certainty, Peter Kosinar, a technical fellow at ESET who was involved in the investigation, said Thursday. It might also be distributed though other means, he said.
The fact that a popular program like Orbit Downloader is used as a DDoS tool creates problems not only for the websites that it’s used to attack, but also for the users whose computers are being abused.
According to Kosinar, there is no rate limit implemented for the packets sent by the DDoS component. This means that launching these attacks can easily consume the user’s Internet connection bandwidth, affecting his ability to access the Internet through other programs.
Orbit Downloder version 184.108.40.206 is generating a very high amount of DDoS traffic, a user named raj_21er said on the support forum on June 12. “The DDoS flooding is so huge that it just hangs the gateway devices/network switches completely and breaks down the entire network operation.”
“I was using Orbit Downloader for the past one week on my desktop when I suddenly noticed that the internet access was pretty much dead in the last 2 days,” another user named Orbit_User_5500 said. Turning off the desktop system restored Internet access to the other network computers and devices, he said.
Since adding detection of this DDoS component, ESET received tens of thousands of detection reports per week from deployments of its antivirus products, Kosinar said.
The six Space Force logo concepts. Space Force
In June, President Donald Trump called for the creation of a sixth branch of the U.S. military. To the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard, he hopes to add… the Space Force.
On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis held a press conference at the Pentagon to discuss their vision for the Space Force. With the announcement came some visual aids: six potential Space Force logos. It may have seemed a minor point in the morning’s proceedings—who cares about color choice when the militarization of the moon might be on the table!—but designers say the images could offer insight into the current state of the project and what’s to come, whether they end up on official uniforms or serve as simple marketing tools.
The NASA standards manual, featuring the so-called “worm logo.” Courtesy of Standards Manual
“Whenever you create a new identity, you’re signaling something,” says Jesse Reed, co-founder of the design firm Order and the Standards Manual publishing project, which has brought technical design documents, like those guiding graphics at NASA, the EPA, and the New York City subways out of the shadows and onto coffee tables across the country. “Whether that’s a new idea, a change in leadership, or a new way this company’s doing something, you can sign that through visual design.”
In 1975, for example, designers Richard Danne and Bruce Blackburn won the competition to design NASA’s visual identity. Where the Space Force intends to bring military politics, strategy, and perhaps even weapons into space, NASA and peer space agencies in dozens of countries peacefully probed the cosmos. Their concept, commonly called “the worm logo,” centered around a stylized version of the letters N-A-S-A depicted in a simple red zigzag. “It really is a quintessential identity mark,” Reed says. “It’s very simple, it’s easy to draw, it’s easy to identify. Anyone could create these—maybe not in a perfect rendition—but it’s clear.”
The NASA “meatball” logo. NASA
The worm complimented NASA’s other icon: the star-spotted blue circle known as “the meatball.” “The meatball was derived from something that was already part of the NASA visual language—it was the NASA seal,” Reed says. “It really is meant for something to go on the arm of a uniform, on maybe very high-level communication materials, as literally a seal of approval that is a little more historical in nature.” Reed compares the two graphics to a university mascot, running around at football games, and the elegant seal on your diploma.
The worm provides “a quick read” and some good marketing material, the meatball; despite its name, signals seriousness and sophistication.
Reed’s historically-informed expectations suggest a central problem with the Space Force logos is memorability. “Really none of them are good,” he says. “Obviously, that’s a very subjective point of view, but from a designer’s perspective, if you’re creating an identity… you really want them to be memorable. And for things to be memorable, you want them to be understandable and simple so that anyone with any educational background or language background can understand what they’re seeing. All of these are very complex. They’re more illustrations than they are logos.”
The first design is a rip-off of both of NASA’s logos, says Reed. It even copies the two forking lines which original meatball designer James J. Modarelli intended to represent a supersonic wing model used in early wind tunnel testing. While Reed says most contemporary design is derivative of some earlier artistry, this logo’s reliance on historical analogs goes much further. “I see it as a lack of confidence and really a lack of building something new,” Reed says. “This one just looks like, ‘We don’t really know what we’re doing, so we’re going to take two old things and put them together like they’re new.’” (The third logo, which depicts a starscape encircled by swirling red jet streams, also draws heavily on NASA’s iconography, especially its color scheme.)
The Space Force logo one PopSci editor described as a Lisa Frank creation. Space Force
The other designs have also engendered criticism, both online and off. Miriam Kramer, science editor for Mashable, noted that the red planet seemed misplaced in this graphical lineup. “Cute, but like… The Space Force would have literally nothing to do with Mars?” she tweeted. “Unless… I guess we could go to war with Martians, then this this logo might be relevant.” And one PopSci editor said the fourth logo looks like it “was designed by Lisa Frank.”
For his part, typographer Chester Jenkins said the proposals ranged from “insulting to laughable.” “The other logos all seem to have been put together with clip art components. The rocket ships are comical, as are the flame/thrust elements,” he wrote in an email. “One logo states that ‘MARS AWAITS’ in Futura—a classic typeface from 100 years ago—on a design which might be a background from Two Dots,” a puzzle game for smartphones.
The Space Force “Mars Awaits” concept confused many viewers. Space Force
For Reed, these reactions reveal a fundamental flaw with all of the designs: they’re too trendy. “The less sort of style and expression you have within that mark, typically the longer it has a shelf life,” he says. “With most of these, I think in a few years, they will either look dated or really bad or very trendy. And then this whole [design] process needs to start over again.”
The future of the Space Force does not rest on its logo, but on Congress, which must approve the creation of a new branch of the military—and fund whatever results. But the visual identity of this proposed branch matters nonetheless. “I am left wondering about the purpose of Space Force,” Jenkins wrote. “Is it a new arm of the military? Is the U.S. going to defend outer space from other countries’ space forces? Are we annexing Mars? Are we getting ready to fight off any intergalactic baddies who show up in our neighbourhood?” For now, Reed says the designs “lack a clarity and focus”—much like the Space Force itself.
How to Add Swap Space on CentOS 7 on Google Cloud. Swap Space is a space in Linux is used when the amount of physical memory (RAM) is full. If the system needs more memory resources and the RAM is full, inactive pages in memory are moved to the swap space.
Swap space can help machines with a small amount of RAM. In case you choose a VM instance with 600 MB RAM, then your memory will get exhausted and you will get cannot allocate memory.
This guide provides the steps required to add swap space on CentOS 7.
Not using CentOS 7? Choose a different OS:Prerequisites
A running Compute Engine, see Setting up Compute Engine Instance with CentOS 7.Check Swap Space
Check whether your CentOS server already has a swap space available. More often virtual machines don’t have a swap space enabled by default. Check swap space with the following command.sudo swapon --show
If you don’t get any output, then your server don’t have any swap space. It’s time to add swap memory.01. Creating a Swap File
Now you can create a swap file to add 1 GB (1G) space. You can also increase the amount of space you need.sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/swapfile bs=1024 count=1048572 02. Set up Swap File Permissions
Now you have a swap file of correct size and can be enabled as swap space.
Proceed by setting up correct permissions.sudo chmod 600 /swapfile 03. Set up a Swap Space
You can now mark the file as swap space with the mkswap command.sudo mkswap /swapfile
You will receive the output similar to this.04. Enable Swap Space
Enable the swap space and allow the system to utilise the space.sudo swapon /swapfile
Verify that the swap is available by typing:sudo swapon --show
You can check the output of the free utility again.free -h 05. Making the Swap File Permanent
Install nano editor.sudo yum install nano -y
Now swap space is only created for the current session. If you reboot the server the current changes will be gone. So you can make this setting permanent by adding the swap file to our /etc/fstab file.sudo nano /etc/fstab
Add the following at the end of the file./swapfile swap swap defaults 0 0 Configure Swappiness Value
The swappiness parameter allow to configure how often your system swaps data out of RAM to the swap space.
This value will be between 0 to 100 in percentage. The values close to zero, the kernel will not swap data to the disk unless absolutely necessary. The higher the value that are closer to 100 will try to put more data into swap in an effort to keep more RAM space free.
So, telling the system not to rely on the swap much will generally make your system faster.
You can see the current swappiness value by typing:cat /proc/sys/vm/swappiness
Now set the value to 10 with the following command.sudo sysctl vm.swappiness=
You can make this value permanent by adding the line to your /etc/sysctl.conf file.
At the bottom, add the following line.vm.swappiness=10
Hit Ctrl+X followed by Y and Enter to save and close the file.Removing Swap Space
Finally, delete the swap file.sudo rm /swapfile Conclusion
Now you have learned how to create a swap file, activate, configure swap space and remove the swap space on your CentOS 7 server in Google Cloud.
Google Tensor G2 boasts the same 5nm manufacturing as its predecessor
Ahead of the Google Pixel 7 series launch, some rumors were pointing to the Google Tensor G2 as a 4nm chipset. That would be a major change for the processor over this predecessor. After all, it brings the same ARMv8 core architecture, the same old Cortex-A76 cores. A newer manufacturing process could have made the SoC more efficient and would also delivered a slight jump in performance. However, in the end, it turns out that the Tensor G2 is the same processor with slight refreshments.
Recently, a Google spokesperson confirmed to Android Authority that the new chipset has the same 5nm manufacturing process. It uses the same Samsung 5LPE process as the Tensor G1. In the best scenario, it uses the newer 5LPP process. We’ll never know since Google goes for an Apple-like route of keeping certain technical aspects under wraps.
Anyway, the chipset brings 2 x Cortex-X1 cores, 2 x Cortex-A78 cores, and 4 x Cortex-A55 cores. There are some updates in the clock speed to deliver a small bump in performance. Anyway, the GPU is better thanks to a newer Mali-G710 MC10. Therefore, the SoC is an improvement in gaming and image processing.
Google teases its processor as an improvement over the past generation. According to the search giant, the Tensor G2 brings power efficiency improvements. Moreover, it can handle camera and machine learning tasks 60% faster. Obviously, these improvements are not coming thanks to a newer manufacturing process.Gizchina News of the week Perhaps, Google didn’t want to use Samsung’s 4nm manufacturing process
Honestly, we can’t blame Google for not using Samsung’s 4nm manufacturing. After all, it seemed to be quite problematic. The Exynos 2200 didn’t prove itself against the competition, and Qualcomm was not happy with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Due to poor efficiency and thermal management, Qualcomm decided to move the Snapdragon manufacturing to Qualcomm. That gave birth to the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC which proved to be 10% faster and 30% more efficient with TSMC’s 5nm manufacturing.
Therefore, Google could have had problems in using the 4nm manufacturing process from Samsung. Things may be different in the next year, and we may see a jump straight to the 3nm architecture.Hopes are on the Google Tensor G3
We’re not saying that Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro owners should be disappointed with the performance brought by the Tensor G2. The processor may hold well to fill its purposes. Google makes clear that its goal is not to compete with flagship manufacturers anymore. In fact, the company’s flagships are to offer stellar camera capabilities and showcase the company’s reliability in software.
You won’t see fancy technologies like crazy-high fast charging, or stellar hardware to do 120fps gaming. Anyway, as we’ve said, the device will hold well for another year. The situation may finally improve with the Google Tensor G3.
According to rumors, the chipset will use upcoming Samsung’s 3nm manufacturing. It will be ready in time for the Pixel 8 series release. We can expect efficiency that greatly overcomes the 5nm on the Tensor G1 and G2. Moreover, we expect the upcoming chipset to finally make a switch to ARMv9 cores.
We expect details to start appearing in the next year, but an actual unveiling will happen only in October with the Pixel 8 series. We expect a Pixel 7a to appear in mid-2023, but that will likely stick with the Tensor G2.
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