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Intel CEO Calls for 'Moonshot' To Boost US Role in Chipmaking

Tue, 13/04/2021 - 02:30
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger called Monday for the U.S. to spend billions of dollars over the next few years as part of a "moonshot" designed to regain lost ground in semiconductor manufacturing. The goal, he said, is to see the U.S. again account for a third of global output, up from about 12% today. From a report: Investments made now will take several years to bear fruit, so they won't do much to ease the current semiconductor shortage, but are vital to America's long-term economic future and national security, Gelsinger told Axios on Monday. The White House met with tech leaders in a virtual summit on Monday discussing the need for investment in chip manufacturing. With demand for broad categories of chips exceeding supply, makers of everything from cars to computers and networking gear are having to slow factories and cut output. Automakers have been hit especially hard. At the very leading edge, the vast majority of chip production today is done in Taiwan, an island that remains imperiled by China's longstanding claims. "I would argue the most important building block for our economic livelihood and every aspect of human life is now increasingly not in our control," Gelsinger told Axios in an interview after the White House meeting.

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Tesla Drastically Increases Price of Solar Roof

Tue, 13/04/2021 - 01:50
Tesla appears to have drastically increased the price of its Solar Roof tiles in an update to its configurator and quote estimates. Electrek reports: After years of delays, the Tesla Solar Roof is finally gaining momentum with a sharp rise in installations over the last few quarters. The increased deployment came after Tesla launched version 3 of its Solar Roof tiles, which brought a significant price decrease through optimization and faster installation process. Tesla kept refining the product and changed its online cost estimates a few times, decreasing the price again last summer. But now Tesla appears to have changed course and significantly increased the price of its solar roof in its online configurator. Several Electrek readers and prospective solar roof buyers reached out this weekend to let us know that they are seeing higher prices for the same quotes. Last summer, a quote for a 3,947-square-foot roof with a 12,3 kW solar roof tile system was $54,966 before incentives. Now the Tesla Solar Roof configurator shows prices between $79,938 and $100,621 for the same size roof. While this is a sharp increase in price, Tesla also appears to try to make its online quotes more accurate with a new "roof complexity" factor. [...] However, in this case, the least to the most complex options all result in higher prices than previously quoted for the same address with the same square footage.

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Charter Must Pay $19 Million For Tricking Customers Into Switching ISPs

Tue, 13/04/2021 - 01:30
A judge has ordered Charter Communications to pay $19.2 million to Windstream for lying to customers in order to trick them into switching from Windstream to Charter's Spectrum Internet service. Charter also faces a $5,279 penalty for shutting off service to hundreds of Windstream's resale customers. Ars Technica reports: When Windstream filed for bankruptcy in early 2019, Charter began a "literally false and intentionally misleading advertising campaign intended to create the impression, using mailings designed to seem as if they were coming from the Debtors [Windstream], that the Debtors were going out of business," said an order issued Thursday by Judge Robert Drain of US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Charter's goal with the mailings "was to induce the Debtors' customers to terminate their contracts and switch to Charter by sending them literally false and intentionally misleading information about the Debtors' bankruptcy cases and financial wherewithal," the ruling said. Charter premised its ad campaign "on false assertions regarding the Debtors' bankruptcy cases," the ruling said. "We are gratified that Judge Drain's ruling means Charter will have to pay a significant price for its egregious false advertising," Windstream General Counsel Kristi Moody said, according to a FierceTelecom article. "Charter knew full well what it was doing when it embarked on a dishonest scare-tactic campaign to lure away our customers. At Windstream, we will always aggressively defend ourselves and our customers against predatory schemes and meritless allegations."

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Your WhatsApp Account Can Be Suspended By Anyone Who Has Your Phone Number

Tue, 13/04/2021 - 01:10
An anonymous reader writes: If you're a frequent user of WhatsApp, you may want to keep an eye on a disturbing hole discovered in its security this weekend. It's possible for an attacker to completely suspend your WhatsApp account, without any recourse for the individual user, and all they need is your phone number. At the time of writing there's no solution for this issue. This newly-discovered flaw uses two separate vectors. The attacker installs WhatsApp on a new device and enters your number to activate the chat service. They can't verify it, because of course, the two-factor authentication system is sending the login prompts to your phone instead. After multiple repeated and failed attempts, your login is locked for 12 hours. Here's where the tricky part comes in: with your account locked, the attacker sends a support message to WhatsApp from their email address, claiming that their (your) phone has been lost or stolen, and that the account associated with your number needs to be deactivated. WhatsApp "verifies" this with a reply email, and suspends your account without any input on your end. The attacker can repeat the process several times in succession to create a semi-permanent lock on your account. The results are disturbing, but at the very least, this method can't be used to actually gain access to an account, merely to block access by its legitimate owner. Confidential text messages and contacts are not exposed. The proof-of-concept attack was first reported by Forbes from security researchers Luis Marquez Carpintero and Ernesto Canales Perena. There's no indication that it's being used in the wild.

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HSBC Bans Customers From Buying Bitcoin-Backer MicroStrategy Shares

Tue, 13/04/2021 - 00:30
HSBC has banned customers of its online share-trading platform from buying or moving into their accounts MicroStrategy stock, calling it a "virtual currency product." Reuters reports: The bank will not facilitate the buying or exchange of products related to or referencing the performance of virtual currencies, the message to an HSBC InvestDirect client said. MicroStrategy declined to comment. The U.S. business software firm is led by bitcoin proponent Michael Saylor and owns bitcoin worth billions of dollars. While HSBC will allow the holding, sale and outgoing transfer of MicroStrategy shares, it will forbid new purchases or incoming transfers, said the message dated March 29. "HSBC has no appetite for direct exposure to virtual currencies and limited appetite to facilitate products or securities that derive their value from VCs (virtual currencies)," HSBC said in a statement. The bank said its policy towards cryptocurrencies had been in place since 2018 and is kept under review.

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Kraken CEO Warns a Crackdown On Cryptocurrencies May Be Coming

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 23:50
Jess Powell, CEO of Kraken, the world's fourth-largest digital currency exchange, warns that governments around the world may start to clamp down on the use of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. CNBC reports: "I think there could be some crackdown," Jesse Powell, CEO of Kraken, told CNBC in an interview. Cryptocurrencies have surged in value lately, with bitcoin hitting a record high price of more than $61,000 last month. The world's most valuable digital coin was last trading at around $60,105. [...] Kraken's chief thinks regulatory uncertainty around crypto isn't going away anytime soon. A recent anti-money laundering rule proposed by the U.S. government would require people who hold their crypto in a private digital wallet to undergo identity checks if they make transactions of $3,000 or more. "Something like that could really hurt crypto and kind of kill the original use case, which was to just make financial services accessible to everyone," Powell said. Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have often been associated with illicit activities due to the fact that people transacting with it are pseudonymous -- you can see where funds are being sent but not who sent or received them. "I hope that the U.S. and international regulators don't take too much of a narrow view on this," Powell said. "Some other countries, China especially, are taking crypto very seriously and taking a very long-term view." Kraken's CEO said he feels the U.S. is more "shortsighted" than other nations and "susceptible" to the pressures of incumbent legacy businesses -- in other words, the banks -- that "stand to lose from crypto becoming a big deal." "I also think it might be too late," Powell added. "Maybe the genie's out of the bottle and just trying to ban it at this point would make it more attractive. It would certainly send a message that the government sees this as a superior alternative to their own currency."

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The Google Shopping App Is Shutting Down

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 23:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Google: A new Google Shopping experience that featured a personalized homepage launched in 2019. On Android, Google rebranded the existing Express app to Shopping, but it's now shutting down the mobile experience in favor of just the web. The [Android and iOS clients] will continue to work through June. It comes as Google has been expanding shopping functionality in Search, Image Search, and YouTube, while increasingly leveraging augmented reality: "Within the next few weeks, we'll no longer be supporting the Shopping app. All of the functionality the app offered users is available on the Shopping tab. We'll continue building features within the Shopping tab and other Google surfaces, including the Google app, that make it easy for people to discover and shop for the products they love."

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Intel's Mobileye Will Launch a Fully Driverless Delivery Service in 2023

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 22:30
Mobileye, the company that specializes in chips for vision-based autonomous vehicles, announced that it will launch a full-scale, fully driverless delivery service starting in 2023. The company, a subsidiary of Intel, is joining forces with self-driving delivery startup Udelv to run this new service. From a report: Deliveries will be made using a new type of cabin-less vehicle called The Transporter. While manufacturing plans are still in flux, Mobileye and Udelv say they will produce 35,000 Transporters between 2023-2028 -- a signal of their seriousness to launch a driverless delivery system at scale. "This is a real commercial deployment," Jack Weast, vice president of automated vehicle standards at Mobileye, told The Verge. "Thirty-five thousand units starting in 2023 that will fully integrate our self driving system for commercial use for automated goods delivery." Mobileye's turn-key self-driving system features a full-sensor suite of 13 cameras, three long-range LiDARs, six short-range LiDARs, and six radar. It also includes the Israeli company's EyeQ system-on-a-chip and a data crowdsourcing program called the Road Experience Management, or REM, which uses real-time data from Mobileye-equipped vehicles to build out a global 3D map.

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The FSF Doubles Down On Restoring RMS After His Non-Apology Apology

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 21:50
In late March, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) readmitted its founder Richard M. Stallman (RMS) to its board, catching everyone by surprise. Now, weeks later, RMS "offers a defensive non-apology apology for the words and actions that led to his resignation from the FSF," writes Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols via ZDNet. Slashdot reader destinyland shares an excerpt of his statement from the Free Software Foundation's official website: Looking back over his life starting as a teenager, Stallman writes: "I realized that I didn't understand the subtle cues that other people were responding to. Later in life, I discovered that some people had negative reactions to my behavior, which I did not even know about. Tending to be direct and honest with my thoughts, I sometimes made others uncomfortable or even offended them -- especially women. This was not a choice: I didn't understand the problem enough to know which choices there were." "Sometimes I lost my temper because I didn't have the social skills to avoid it," Stallman adds. "Some people could cope with this; others were hurt. I apologize to each of them. Please direct your criticism at me, not at the Free Software Foundation. Occasionally I learned something about relationships and social skills, so over the years I've found ways to get better at these situations. When people help me understand an aspect of what went wrong, and that shows me a way of treating people better, I teach myself to recognize when I should act that way. I keep making this effort, and over time, I improve. Some have described me as being 'tone-deaf,' and that is fair. With my difficulty in understanding social cues, that tends to happen." This is just an excerpt. But through eight short paragraphs, Stallman seems to want to offer up a larger context for his badly-received defense of Professor Minsky on an MIT mailing list. (And Stallman adds later that "I condemn racism and sexism, including their systemic forms, so when people say I don't, that hurts too...") "I've learned something from this about how to be kind to people who have been hurt," writes Stallman. "In the future, that will help me be kind to people in other situations, which is what I hope to do." "RMS did not, however, address the many other issues which caused people to regret his return to a position of leadership," writes Vaughan-Nichols. Soon after the RMS post appeared on the FSF's front page, the board spoke on why they'd brought him back. The unsigned document states: The voting members of the Free Software Foundation, which include the board of directors, voted to appoint Richard Stallman to a board seat after several months of thorough discussion and thoughtful deliberation. We decided to bring RMS back because we missed his wisdom. His historical, legal and technical acumen on free software is unrivaled. He has a deep sensitivity to the ways that technologies can contribute to both the enhancement and the diminution of basic human rights. His global network of connections is invaluable. He remains the most articulate philosopher and an unquestionably dedicated advocate of freedom in computing. RMS acknowledges that he has made mistakes. He has sincere regrets, especially at how anger toward him personally has negatively impacted the reputation and mission of FSF. While his personal style remains troubling for some, a majority of the board feel his behavior has moderated and believe that his thinking strengthens the work of the FSF in pursuit of its mission. We take full responsibility for how badly we handled the news of his election to a board seat. We had planned a flow of information that was not executed in a timely manner or delivered in the proper sequence. [...]

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Huawei To Invest $1 Billion on Car Tech It Says Surpasses Tesla

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 21:10
Huawei will invest $1 billion on researching self-driving and electric-car technologies, accelerating plans to compete with Tesla and Xiaomi in the world's biggest vehicle arena. From a report: Huawei's autonomous-driving technology has already surpassed Tesla's in some spheres, for instance by allowing cars to cruise for more than 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) without human intervention, Rotating Chairman Eric Xu told analysts in Shenzhen Monday. The Chinese telecom giant will partner with three automakers initially to make self-driving cars that carry the Huawei name as a sub-brand, said Xu, one of three executives who take turns to fill the post. It will keep its circle of partners small and get its logo onto cars -- not unlike how Intel calls attention to its microprocessors on PCs -- that adopt its autonomous driving technology, he added. The mobile giant has so far agreed to team up with BAIC Group, Chongqing Changan Automobile and Guangzhou Automobile Group.

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FCC Wants You To Test Your Internet Speeds With Its New App

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 20:33
The Federal Communications Commission has released a new speed test app to help measure internet speeds across the country, available on both Android and iOS. From a report: The FCC Speed Test App works similarly to existing speed-testing apps like Ookla's and Fast by Netflix, automatically collecting and displaying data once users press the "start testing" button. According to the FCC, the data collected through the app will inform the agency's efforts to collect more accurate broadband speed information and aid its broadband deployment efforts. "To close the gap between digital haves and have nots, we are working to build a comprehensive, user-friendly dataset on broadband availability," Acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement Monday. "Expanding the base of consumers who use the FCC Speed Test app will enable us to provide improved coverage information to the public and add to the measurement tools we're developing to show where broadband is truly available throughout the United States."

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Logitech Harmony Remote Controls Officially Discontinued

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 19:00
CIStud writes: The rumors have persisted for some time, and now Logitech has officially confirmed it has discontinued its once-vaunted Harmony remote controls, including the line of Logitech Harmony Pro programmable remotes for custom installers. Logitech plans to continue maintaining the Harmony database and software. The discontinuation does not affect the operation or the warranty on any Harmony remotes being used by integrators' clients already in the field. Logitech also plans to continue to offer service and support for Harmony remotes. The company also points out that the decision does not affect a customer's ability to interface with the Harmony universal remotes via their Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice controls.

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NHS Covid-19 App Update Blocked For Breaking Apple and Google's Rules

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 18:21
An update to England and Wales's contact tracing app has been blocked for breaking the terms of an agreement made with Apple and Google. From a report: The plan had been to ask users to upload logs of venue check-ins - carried out via poster barcode scans -- if they tested positive for the virus. This could be used to warn others. The update had been timed to coincide with the relaxation of lockdown rules. But the two firms had explicitly banned such a function from the start. Under the terms that all health authorities signed up to in order to use Apple and Google's privacy-centric contact-tracing tech, they had to agree not to collect any location data via the software. As a result, Apple and Google refused to make the update available for download from their app stores last week, and have instead kept the old version live.

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Nvidia To Make CPUs, Going After Intel

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 17:40
Nvidia said it's offering the company's first server microprocessors, extending a push into Intel's most lucrative market with a chip aimed at handling the most complicated computing work. Intel shares fell more than 2% on the news. From a report: The graphics chipmaker has designed a central processing unit, or CPU, based on technology from Arm, a company it's trying to acquire from Japan's SoftBank Group. The Swiss National Supercomputing Centre and U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory will be the first to use the chips in their computers, Nvidia said Monday at an online event. Nvidia has focused mainly on graphics processing units, or GPUs, which are used to power video games and data-heavy computing tasks in data centers. CPUs, by contrast, are a type of chip that's more of a generalist and can do basic tasks like running operating systems. Expanding into this product category opens up more revenue opportunities for Nvidia. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jensen Huang has made Nvidia the most valuable U.S. chipmaker by delivering on his promise to give graphics chips a major role in the explosion in cloud computing. Data center revenue contributes about 40% of the company's sales, up from less than 7% just five years ago. Intel still has more than 90% of the market in server processors, which can sell for more than $10,000 each. The CPU, named Grace after the late pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper, is designed to work closely with Nvidia graphics chips to better handle new computing problems that will come with a trillion parameters. Systems working with the new chip will be 10 times faster than those currently using a combination of Nvidia graphics chips and Intel CPUs. The new product will be available at the beginning of 2023, Nvidia said.

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Epic Set To Lose at Least $330 Million in Efforts To Compete With Steam

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 17:01
Epic Games may lose millions after struggling to recuperate costs from the Epic Games Store, following its fight to gain market share from Steam. From a report: The Fortnite giant spent around $444 million in 2020 on making the storefront more lucrative to PC gamers, mainly through giving away titles for free and exclusivity deals. The company dug deep to offer "minimum guarantees" to developers releasing games exclusive to the Epic Games Store. Under this arrangement, titles must remain exclusive to the PC storefront for one year, even if they're released on console platforms. This means that the developer will receive a guaranteed advance from Epic whether or not their game sells enough to recoup the number. As an example, the company spent over $10 million securing PC exclusivity for Remedy's Control in 2019. A report by IGN that shows players spent $700 million on the Epic Store in 2020, but only $265 million of that was spent on third-party games exclusive to it. According to predictions made by Apple, the Epic Store will not see any profitability until 2027 if it continues to operate this way. Apple also projects that the store could lose around $600 million by the end of the year. While Apple claims that the figure is a loss, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney confirmed on Twitter that he considers it a "fantastic investment into growing the business."

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New Electrical Flaw Grounds More Than 60 737 MAXs, Adding To Boeing's Woes

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 16:21
phalse phace writes: A minor change in Boeing's 737 MAX manufacturing process that was insufficiently vetted caused an electrical system problem that on Friday temporarily grounded more than 60 of the aircraft -- out of almost 200 MAXs that have returned to service since December. While this latest manufacturing flaw is unrelated to the flight-control system implicated in two fatal crashes that grounded the MAX for nearly two years, it slows the positive momentum that had begun to build as more MAXs took to the air and new orders came in from United, Alaska and Southwest. The problem, according to two people with knowledge of the modified manufacturing process, arose when a backup electrical power control unit was secured to a rack on the flight deck with fasteners -- in place of the rivets previously used. This change was executed in such a way that it did not provide a complete electrical grounding path to the unit. The lack of secure electrical grounding could potentially cause malfunctions in a variety of electrical systems, such as the engine anti-ice system and the auxiliary power unit (APU) in the plane's tail. Boeing said it discovered the issue "on a production airplane during normal build activity" and that inspections are needed to verify "that a sufficient ground path exists" for this control unit.

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France To Ban Some Domestic Flights Where Train Available

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 15:40
AmiMoJo writes: French MPs have voted to suspend domestic airline flights on routes that can be travelled by direct train in less than two and a half hours, as part of a series of climate and environmental measures. After a heated debate in the Assemblee Nationale at the weekend, the ban, a watered-down version of a key recommendation from President Emmanuel Macron's citizens' climate convention was adopted. It will mean the end of short internal flights from Orly airport, south of Paris, to Nantes and Bordeaux among others, though connecting flights through Charles de Gaulle/Roissy airport, north of the French capital, will continue. The climate commission set up by Macron had originally recommended the scrapping of all flights between French destinations where an alternative direct train journey of less than four hours existed. This was reduced to two and a half hours after strong objections from certain regions and from Air France-KLM, which, like other airlines, has been badly hit by local and international Covid-19 restrictions on travel.

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Microsoft is Acquiring Nuance Communications for $19.7 Billion

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 14:40
Microsoft agreed today to acquire Nuance Communications, a leader in speech to text software, for $19.7 billion. From a report: In a post announcing the deal, the company said this was about increasing its presence in the healthcare vertical, a place where Nuance has done well in recent years. In fact, the company announced the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare last year, and this deal is about accelerating its presence there. Nuance's products in this area include Dragon Ambient eXperience, Dragon Medical One and PowerScribe One for radiology reporting. "Today's acquisition announcement represents the latest step in Microsoft's industry-specific cloud strategy," the company wrote. The acquisition also builds on several integrations and partnerships the two companies have made in the last couple of years. The company boasts 10,000 healthcare customers, according to information on the website. Those include AthenaHealth, Johns Hopkins, Mass General Brigham and Cleveland Clinic to name but a few, and it was that customer base that attracted Microsoft to pay the price it did to bring Nuance into the fold.

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Historic Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin Commemorated in 'World of Tanks'

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 12:34
Space.com writes: Tank battles and history will collide this month as the makers of the free-to-play game "World of Tanks" honors the legacy of famed cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin for the 60th anniversary of his historic launch into space... "World of Tanks" developer Wargaming has launched its "To The Stars!" event, which recruits Gagarin into the game along with Vostok 1 themed goodies for players. The event launched Wednesday (April 7 ) and runs through April 19. Gagarin will be an in-game commander, dressed in his iconic orange flight suit, who will represent the U.S.S.R. nation. "World of Tanks" creators worked with Gagarin's daughter, Galina Gagarina, to launch a commemorative website for the 60th anniversary of Vostok 1. You can see that "To The Stars! website here, where players can also track their progress in the event. "Yuri Gagarin proved that humans can live and operate in space. His flight encouraged and gave hope to all those who dreamed of this! It kickstarted the deep understanding of humanity's role in preserving and developing our cosmic home — Earth," Galina Gagarin said in a statement. "I'm happy to know that, through the millions-strong audience of World of Tanks, the memory of mankind's first foray into space will be preserved for years to come!" The press release promises a "shower of cosmic activities," including return of "Gravity Force Mode" between April 12 and April 18 with a new ability that "allows tanks to jump up and operate in the air." And the Wargaming/MS-1 team behind the mobile tank game "World of Tanks Blitz" commemorated Gagarin's historic flight by launching a tank model into the stratosphere.

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Remembering Yuri Gagarin, the First Man in Space

Mon, 12/04/2021 - 10:34
Sixty years ago today, Yuri Gagarin became the first human ever in space. Space.com reports: Because no one was certain how weightlessness would affect a pilot, the spherical capsule had little in the way of onboard controls; the work was done either automatically or from the ground. If an emergency arose, Gagarin was supposed to receive an override code that would allow him to take manual control, but Sergei Korolev, chief designer of the Soviet space program, disregarded protocol and gave the code to the pilot prior to the flight. Over the course of 108 minutes, Vostok 1 traveled around the Earth once, reaching a maximum height of 203 miles (327 kilometers). The spacecraft carried 10 days' worth of provisions in case the engines failed and Gagarin was required to wait for the orbit to naturally decay. But the supplies were unnecessary. Gagarin re-entered Earth's atmosphere, managing to maintain consciousness as he experienced forces up to eight times the pull of gravity during his descent. The BBC remembers how on his return to earth, Gagarin parachuted into some farmland several hundred miles from Moscow — "much to the surprise of a five-year-old girl who was out in the fields planting potatoes." 60 years later, the BBC tracked down and interviewed Interviewed that woman — who still remembered Gagarin's kind voice and smile. (Thanks to Slashdot reader 4wdloop for sharing the article.) The BBC also published a look at Gagarin's global fame in the years that followed — and Phys.org notes that even today, there are few people more universally admired in Russia than Yuri Gagarin: His smiling face adorns murals across the country. He stands, arms at his sides as if zooming into space, on a pedestal 42.5 metres (140 feet) above the traffic flowing on Moscow's Leninsky Avenue. He is even a favourite subject of tattoos... The anniversary of Gagarin's historic flight on April 12, 1961 — celebrated every year in Russia as Cosmonautics Day — sees Russians of all ages lay flowers at monuments to his accomplishment across the country... Gagarin, says historian Alexander Zheleznyakov, was a figure who helped fuel the imagination. "He transformed us from a simple biological species to one that could imagine an entire universe beyond Earth."

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