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Japan To Test Mini 'Space Elevator'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 02:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's up-up-and-away department:
Zorro shares a report from Phys.Org: A Japanese team working to develop a "space elevator" will conduct a first trial this month, blasting off a miniature version on satellites to test the technology. The test equipment, produced by researchers at Shizuoka University, will hitch a ride on an H-2B rocket being launched by Japan's space agency from southern island of Tanegashima next week. The test involves a miniature elevator stand-in -- a box just six centimeters (2.4 inches) long, three centimeters wide, and three centimeters high. If all goes well, it will provide proof of concept by moving along a 10-meter cable suspended in space between two mini satellites that will keep it taut. The mini-elevator will travel along the cable from a container in one of the satellites. The movement of the motorized "elevator" box will be monitored with cameras in the satellites.

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Russia Thinks Someone With a Drill Caused the Recent ISS Air Leak
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 12:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's I-smell-sabotage department:
Last week, NASA discovered a small pressure leak on the International Space Station. U.S. and Russian crew members managed to trace the leak to a 2mm breach in the orbital module of the Soyuz MS-09 vehicle and patch it with epoxy. The drama might have ended there, as it was initially presumed that the breach had been caused by a tiny bit of orbital debris, but Russian news outlets are reporting that the problem was a manufacturing defect. "It remains unclear whether the hole was an accidental error or intentional," reports Ars Technica. "There is evidence that a technician saw the drilling mistake and covered the hole with glue, which prevented the problem from being detected during a vacuum test."

< article continued at Slashdot's I-smell-sabotage department >

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European Science Funders Ban Grantees From Publishing In Paywalled Journals
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 08:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Magazine: Frustrated with the slow transition toward open access (OA) in scientific publishing, 11 national funding organizations in Europe turned up the pressure today. As of 2020, the group, which jointly spends about $8.8 billion on research annually, will require every paper it funds to be freely available from the moment of publication. In a statement, the group said it will no longer allow the 6- or 12-month delays that many subscription journals now require before a paper is made OA, and it won't allow publication in so-called hybrid journals, which charge subscriptions but also make individual papers OA for an extra fee. The move means grantees from these 11 funders -- which include the national funding agencies in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and France as well as Italy's National Institute for Nuclear Physics -- will have to forgo publishing in thousands of journals, including high-profile ones such as Nature, Science, Cell, and The Lancet, unless those journals change their business model. Not everyone is pleased by the decision. A spokesperson for Springer Nature, which publishes more than 3,000 journals, said the plan "potentially undermines the whole research publishing system." A spokesperson for AAAS, Science's publisher, added: "Implementing such a plan, in our view, would disrupt scholarly communications, be a disservice to researchers, and impinge academic freedom."

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Sony Ends Its Repair Service For the PlayStation 2 More Than 18 Years After the Console Went On Sale
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 06:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-the-road department:
Sony has decided to end its repair service for the PlayStation 2, more than 18 years after it first went on sale. The best-selling gaming console ever produced was first released in Japan in March of 2000. Sony stopped manufacturing the device in 2012, roughly six years after the PlayStation 4 was released. The BBC reports: Sony said it was no longer able to offer repairs because it was running out of replacement parts for the aging console. In a statement, the company thanked customers for their "continued patronage." Gamers seeking repairs will now have to try their luck with unofficial services. More than 150 million PlayStation 2 consoles have been sold.

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Twitter Says Trump Not Immune From Getting Kicked Off
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 06:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's preferentially-treated department:
Twitter legal and policy chief Vijaya Gadde told Politico in an interview that President Donald Trump isn't immune from being kicked off the platform if his tweets cross a line with abusive behavior. "The social media company's rules against vitriolic tweets offer leeway for world leaders whose statements are newsworthy, but that 'is not a blanket exception for the president or anyone else,'" reports Politico. From the report: Trump regularly uses Twitter to heap abuse on his perceived enemies and at times raise the specter of violence, such as when he tweeted last year that if North Korean leaders continued with their rhetoric at the time, "they won't be around much longer!" Critics say the tweets violate Twitter's terms of service and warrant punitive action. Dorsey, who's due to testify before two congressional committees Wednesday about his company's content practices, said he receives notifications on his phone for Trump's Twitter account. But asked if he would weigh in personally to remove Trump from the platform, he declined to get into specifics.

"We have to balance it with the context that it's in," he said. "So my role is to ask questions and make sure we're being impartial, and we're upholding consistently our terms of service, including public interest." Amid controversy over Trump's tweeting back in January, Twitter posted to its corporate blog an unsigned explanation of its thinking around "world leaders" -- without calling out Trump by name. It said blocking such leaders or removing their tweets "would hide important information people should be able to see and debate." Dorsey tweeted the policy, saying "we want to share our stance."

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Mobile Spyware Maker mSpy Leaks Millions of Sensitive Records
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's show-and-tell department:
mSpy, the makers of a software-as-a-service product that claims to help more than a million paying customers spy on the mobile devices of their kids and partners, has leaked millions of sensitive records online, including passwords, call logs, text messages, contacts, notes and location data secretly collected from phones running the stealthy spyware. Krebs On Security reports: Less than a week ago, security researcher Nitish Shah directed KrebsOnSecurity to an open database on the Web that allowed anyone to query up-to-the-minute mSpy records for both customer transactions at mSpy's site and for mobile phone data collected by mSpy's software. The database required no authentication. Before it was taken offline sometime in the past 12 hours, the database contained millions of records, including the username, password and private encryption key of each mSpy customer who logged in to the mSpy site or purchased an mSpy license over the past six months. The private key would allow anyone to track and view details of a mobile device running the software, Shah said. In addition, the database included the Apple iCloud username and authentication token of mobile devices running mSpy, and what appear to be references to iCloud backup files. Anyone who stumbled upon this database also would have been able to browse the Whatsapp and Facebook messages uploaded from mobile devices equipped with mSpy. Other records exposed included the transaction details of all mSpy licenses purchased over the last six months, including customer name, email address, mailing address and amount paid. Also in the data set were mSpy user logs -- including the browser and Internet address information of people visiting the mSpy Web site.

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JD.com's Billionaire CEO Was Arrested On Allegation of Rape
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's under-investigation department:
JD.com's billionaire founder, Liu Qiangdong, is under investigation for a suspected rape in a weekend incident that led to his arrest in Minnesota. He was reportedly in Minneapolis for his studies since he is a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota. According to the Financial Times and Star-Tribune, the case involves a Chinese student at the college. Bloomberg reports: Liu was brought in at 11:32 p.m. Aug. 31 on an accusation of "criminal sexual conduct" and released just more than 16 hours later, according to arrest records. Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder said the case is being investigated as a rape, but authorities decided not to keep Liu in custody and haven't imposed any travel restrictions while conducting their investigation. Police responded to a location Friday night, found Liu and another individual, took photos and arrested the CEO, Elder said. Liu, 45, returned to China after his release and was at work Tuesday at JD.com, the country's largest e-commerce company after Alibaba.

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Get Ready For Atomic Radio
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: David Anderson at Rydberg Technologies in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a couple of colleagues, have reinvented the antenna from scratch. Their new device works in an entirely different way from conventional antennas, using a laser to measure the way radio signals interact with certain types of atoms. The secret sauce in the new device is Rydberg atoms. These are cesium atoms in which the outer electrons are so excited that they orbit the nucleus at great distance. At these distances, the electrons' potential energy levels are extremely closely spaced, and this gives them special properties. Indeed, any small electric field can nudge them from one level to another. Radio waves consist of alternating electric fields that readily interact with any Rydberg atoms they come across. This makes them potential sensors.

< article continued at Slashdot's new-and-improved department >

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Apple Watch Remains Best-Selling Wearable With 4.7 Million Shipments Last Quarter
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 04:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's top-of-the-charts department:
According to research firm IDC, Apple sold 4.7 million Apple Watch units last quarter, capturing 17 percent of the global market. The only other company close on Apple's heels is Xiaomi, which "trailed Apple by two percentage points in market share and 500,000 unit shipments in the second quarter of the year," reports The Verge. From the report: Fitbit, Huawei, and Garmin are far behind, with IDC reporting that higher demand for more fully featured smartwatches is driving demand for Apple products and reducing the popularity of lower-cost fitness trackers. IDC stresses that this is a natural cycle for consumer electronics and that fitness-focused devices will still have a place in the market going forward. IDC says demand for its LTE-equipped Series 3 device largely drove Apple's wearable sales last quarter, and the device received a number of discounts at big-box retail stores that may have led to a surge in consumer purchases. Refurbished versions of the Apple Watch Series 3 also went up for sale on Apple's retail site starting in February.

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MikroTik Routers Are Forwarding Owners' Traffic To Unknown Attackers
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 04:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's remote-control department:
Attackers have been exploiting vulnerabilities in MikroTik routers to forward network traffic to a handful of IP addresses under their control. "The bug is in Winbox management component and allows a remote attacker to bypass authentication and read arbitrary files," reports Bleeping Computer. "Exploit code is freely available from at least three sources from at least three sources." From the report: 360Netlab announced in a blog post today that more than 7,500 MikroTik routers across the world are currently delivering their TZSP (TaZmen Sniffer Protocol) traffic to nine external IP addresses. According to the researchers, the attacker modified the device's packet sniffing settings to forward the data to their locations. "37.1.207.114 is the top player among all the attackers. A significant number of devices have their traffic going to this destination," Qihoo experts inform.

The analysis shows that the attacker is particularly interested in ports 20, 21, 25, 110, and 144, which are for FTP-data, FTP, SMTP, POP3, and IMAP traffic. An unusual interest is in traffic from SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) ports 161 and 162, which researchers cannot explain at the moment. The largest number of compromised devices, 1,628, is in Russia, followed by Iran (637), Brazil (615), India (594) and Ukraine (544). The researchers say that security outfits in the affected countries can contact them at netlab[at]360.cn for a full list of IPs.

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Mercedes Unveils First Tesla Rival In $12 Billion Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 02:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's all-in department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Mercedes-Benz, the world's largest maker of luxury cars, is rolling out its first in a series of battery-powered models, adding to a growing array of high-end brands targeting Tesla. The Mercedes EQC crossover starts production in the first half of next year, part of a plan to develop its EQ electric line, Daimler AG Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche told reporters in Stockholm at the car's world premiere. The company intended to invest $12 billion on the electric-car push, but the spending has become "more than that," he said Tuesday, without specifying figures. "There is no alternative to betting on electric cars, and we're going all in," Zetsche said. "It is starting right now." The new EQC -- roughly the size of the brand's popular GLC SUV -- features a range of more than 280 miles and accelerates to 62 mph in as little as 5.1 seconds. The Model X has a range of 237 miles. Daimler doesn't plan to establish a dedicated electric assembly plant and will instead build the vehicles at the same sites as conventional automobiles to be able to better adjust output, Zetsche said, adding that he expects demand to mainly eat into sales of combustion cars rather than lure new customers.

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The No. 1 Office Perk? Natural Light, According To Hundreds of Employees
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 02:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: The news headlines about what perks or elements of office design make for a great employee experience seem to be dominated by fads -- think treadmill desks, nap pods, and "bring your dog to work day" for starters. However, a new survey by my HR advisory firm Future Workplace called "The Employee Experience" reveals the reality is that employees crave something far more fundamental and essential to human needs. In a research poll of 1,614 North American employees, we found that access to natural light and views of the outdoors are the number one attribute of the workplace environment, outranking stalwarts like onsite cafeterias, fitness centers, and premium perks including on-site childcare (only 4-8% of FORTUNE 100 companies offer on-site child care). The study also found that the absence of natural light and outdoor views hurts the employee experience. Over a third of employees feel that they don't get enough natural light in their workspace. 47% of employees admit they feel tired or very tired from the absence of natural light or a window at their office, and 43% report feeling gloomy because of the lack of light.

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Wikimedia Warns EU Copyright Reform Threatens the 'Vibrant Free Web'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 01:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's you-have-been-warned department:
The Wikimedia Foundation has sounded a stark warning against a copyright reform proposal in Europe that's due to be voted on by the European Parliament next week. From a report: In the post, also emailed to TechCrunch, Maria Sefidari Huici, chair of the Wikimedia Foundation, writes: "Next week, the European Parliament will decide how information online is shared in a vote that will significantly affect how we interact in our increasingly connected, digital world. We are in the last few moments of what could be our last opportunity to define what the Internet looks like in the future. The next wave of proposed rules under consideration by the European Parliament will either permit more innovation and growth, or stifle the vibrant free web that has allowed creativity, innovation, and collaboration to thrive. This is significant because copyright does not only affect books and music, it profoundly shapes how people communicate and create on the internet for years to come." Backers of the reform proposals argue they will help European creatives be fairly recompensed for their work. But critics argue the proposals are not balanced and will chill the creative freedoms of web users to share and comment on content online.

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Samsung Says It Will Unveil a Foldable Smartphone this Year
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Samsung will unveil details of a foldable smartphone later this year, the CEO of its mobile division told CNBC, amid rumors that such a device was in the works. From the report: DJ Koh said that "it's time to deliver" on a foldable device after consumer surveys carried out by Samsung showed that there is a market for that kind of handset. Speaking to CNBC, Koh was tight-lipped on how the folding screen could work but ran through the design thinking of the upcoming smartphone, particularly how Samsung is trying to differentiate the experience from a tablet once it is unfolded. "You can use most of the uses ... on foldable status. But when you need to browse or see something, then you may need to unfold it. But even unfolded, what kind of benefit does that give compared to the tablet? If the unfolded experience is the same as the tablet, why would they (consumers) buy it?," Koh said at the IFA electronics show in Berlin last week. Further reading: Samsung Plans To Overhaul Its Smartphone Strategy at the Mid-range Price Point.

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Google Has Notified At Least Dozens of People Targeted by Secret FBI Investigation
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-record department:
At least dozens of people have received an email from Google informing them that the internet giant responded to a request from the FBI demanding the release of user data, news outlet Motherboard reported Tuesday, citing several people who claimed to have received the email. The email did not specify whether Google released the requested data to the FBI. From the report: The unusual notice appears to be related to the case of Colton Grubbs, one of the creators of LuminosityLink, a $40 remote access tool (or RAT), that was marketed to hack and control computers remotely. Grubs pleaded guilty last year to creating and distributing the hacking tool to hundreds of people. Several people on Reddit, Twitter, and on HackForums, a popular forum where criminals and cybersecurity enthusiast discuss and sometimes share hacking tools, reported receiving the email. [...] The email included a legal process number. When Motherboard searched for it within PACER, the US government's database for court cases documents, it showed that it was part of a case that's still under seal.

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US Telcos Are Slowing Internet Traffic To and From Popular OTT Apps Like YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video, New Research Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
The largest U.S. telecom companies are slowing internet traffic to and from popular apps like YouTube and Netflix, according to new research from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Bloomberg: The researchers used a smartphone app called Wehe, downloaded by about 100,000 consumers, to monitor which mobile services are being throttled when and by whom, in what likely is the single largest running study of its kind. Among U.S. wireless carriers, YouTube is the No. 1 target of throttling, where data speeds are slowed, according to the data. Netflix's video streaming service, Amazon.com's Prime Video and the NBC Sports app have been degraded in similar ways, according to David Choffnes, one of the study's authors who developed the Wehe app. From January through early May, the app detected "differentiation" by Verizon Communications Inc. more than 11,100 times, according to the study. This is when a type of traffic on a network is treated differently than other types of traffic. Most of this activity is throttling. AT&T Inc. did this 8,398 times and it was spotted almost 3,900 times on the network of T-Mobile US and 339 times on Sprint's network, the study found.

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Chrome 69 Arrives With Revamped Design, More Powerful Omnibox, and Better Password Manager
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 10:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
An anonymous reader writes: Google today launched Chrome 69 for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Android, and iOS, just a few days after the browser's 10-year anniversary. The release includes a new design, more powerful omnibox, updated password manager, more accurate autofill, plenty of developer-specific changes, and a slew of security improvements. You can update to the latest version now using Chrome's built-in updater, download it directly from google.com/chrome, or grab it from Google Play and Apple's App Store. Further reading: As Chrome turns 10, Google bets on AI and AR, and Google wants to kill the URL.

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Microsoft Azure's Southern US Data Center Goes Down For Hours, Impacting Office365 and Active Directory Customers
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 10:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's outage-report department:
New submitter courcoul alerted us to Azure outage, which is affecting several customers in many parts of the world: Some Microsoft Azure customers with workloads running in its South Central US data center are having big problems coming back from the holiday weekend Tuesday, after shutdown procedures were initiated following a spike in temperature inside one of its facilities. Around 230am Pacific Time, Microsoft identified problems with the cooling systems in one part of its Texas data center complex, which caused a spike in temperature and forced it to shut down equipment in order to prevent a more catastrophic failure, according to the Azure status page. These issues have also caused cascading effects for some Microsoft Office 365 users as well as those who rely on Microsoft Active Directory to log into their accounts. The cooling system is the most critical part of a modern data center, given the intense heat produced by thousands of servers cranking away in an enclosed area. More resources: The official status page of Azure; and third-party web tracking tool DownDetector's assessment. Further reading: Microsoft Azure suffers outage after cooling issue.

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Google Wants To Kill the URL
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 09:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
As Chrome looks ahead to its next 10 years, the team is mulling its most controversial initiative yet: fundamentally rethinking URLs across the web. From a report: Uniform Resource Locators are the familiar web addresses you use everyday. They are listed in the web's DNS address book and direct browsers to the right Internet Protocol addresses that identify and differentiate web servers. In short, you navigate to WIRED.com to read WIRED so you don't have to manage complicated routing protocols and strings of numbers. But over time, URLs have gotten more and more difficult to read and understand. The resulting opacity has been a boon for cyber criminals who build malicious sites to exploit the confusion. They impersonate legitimate institutions, launch phishing schemes, hawk malicious downloads, and run phony web services -- all because it's difficult for web users to keep track of who they're dealing with. Now, the Chrome team says it's time for a massive change. "People have a really hard time understanding URLs," says Adrienne Porter Felt, Chrome's engineering Manager. "They're hard to read, it's hard to know which part of them is supposed to be trusted, and in general I don't think URLs are working as a good way to convey site identity. So we want to move toward a place where web identity is understandable by everyone -- they know who they're talking to when they're using a website and they can reason about whether they can trust them. But this will mean big changes in how and when Chrome displays URLs. We want to challenge how URLs should be displayed and question it as we're figuring out the right way to convey identity." If you're having a tough time thinking of what could possibly be used in place of URLs, you're not alone. Academics have considered options over the years, but the problem doesn't have an easy answer. Porter Felt and her colleague Justin Schuh, Chrome's principal engineer, say that even the Chrome team itself is still divided on the best solution to propose. And the group won't offer any examples at this point of the types of schemes they are considering. The focus right now, they say, is on identifying all the ways people use URLs to try to find an alternative that will enhance security and identity integrity on the web while also adding convenience for everyday tasks like sharing links on mobile devices.

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The Bitcoin Boom Reaches a Canadian Ghost Town
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '18 at 09:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-record department:
Most of the buildings in Ocean Falls that haven't been demolished over the decades are crumbling in place, and Greg Strebel, along with most everyone who once lived there, is long gone. A population that peaked at 5,000 has fallen below 100. But this summer, the mill began to emit a new sound. From a report: It was more of a buzz than a throb, really, but plenty loud to be heard as far away as the ferry dock and the old firehouse. It was the noise of hundreds of tiny fans blowing air past hundreds of tiny computers, keeping them cool while they ran 24 hours a day, creating Bitcoins. The Bitcoin mine has come to Ocean Falls after almost four decades of false starts. The town went dormant once the paper industry left, but it wasn't dead, exactly. The dam that powered the mill was still capable of producing about 13 megawatts of electricity. Some of that went to power Ocean Falls and two nearby towns, Bella Bella and Shearwater. But even in the middle of winter, their residents used less than one-third of the electricity, leaving plenty to support new industrial uses. The dam wasn't connected to the grid, a shortcoming that could also be an advantage in the right hands. Any power-hungry business willing to set up nearby would be well-positioned to negotiate a sweetheart deal. For most industries, the remoteness of Ocean Falls offsets the benefits of cheap power. It's about 300 miles up the coast from Vancouver, accessible only by boat or seaplane. Strebel's teenage protestations aside, severe weather is a real issue. It's one of the rainier places on the continent, and high winds in the long winter months can hinder travel. And so almost every plan -- for casinos, breweries, marijuana-growing operations and water-bottling plants -- came and went with little tangible impact. At one point, a group of businessmen sought to fill ocean tankers with water from the town and sell it to California or Saudi Arabia. The only substantial business for now is a salmon hatchery. But several years ago, employees at Boralex, the private utility that owns the dam, began getting phone calls from Bitcoin miners, mysterious people untethered from the restraints of businesses producing actual physical goods.

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