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LanceLetter - LastPass's Frustrating Change; A Crypto CPU; Perseverance

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LanceLetter

February 22 · Issue #218 · View online

Stuff that matters.


Pondering a wild week for travel

Mars Rover Perseverance's wheel shot (Credit: NASA)
Mars Rover Perseverance's wheel shot (Credit: NASA)
Passing on LastPass
For years, I’ve extolled the virtues of LastPass, a secure, free password creation, and management system. It’s on every device I use and has helped me create smart, unguessable passwords for almost every single service I use. Now, I must decide if I want to keep using it.
Last week, LastPass informed me of an important service change. Basically, LastPass is significantly reducing the utility of the free service by limiting each user to either mobile or desktop use. As a current user, whichever platform I log into after that date will be my free platform thereafter.
The good news is I can use LastPass on as many, say, mobile devices as I want. The bad news is, if I want to use it on a desktop, I’d have to pay.
I don’t mind paying, really, but LastPass’s decision to limit by platform instead of several logged-in devices makes no sense. A free LastPass account should cover at least one mobile, one desktop, and maybe one tablet device. that would be the normal way to do this.
Basically, it would benefit casual users and ask power users, who have multiple mobile and desktop systems to pay up. What’s worse is that we’re a family of LastPass users and now I must upgrade to not just “Premium” but “Family” to get us all the password protection we need.
I don’t expect LastPass to change their new policy and I do not blame them for trying to make a buck, but I wish we’d had more notice and that LastPass had done this in a more equitable way.
Please mine responsibly
Cryptocurrency mining takes two things: Energy and horsepower. Energy is available but converting it to the power necessary to mine cryptos like Ethereum takes processing power. Apparently, the kind of cycles you find in a gaming GPU like Nvidia’s GeForce Series is just what the bitcoin doctor ordered. As Nvidia sees it, though, this is a misuse of their silicon.
Now Nvidia is releasing a new chip, the GeForce RTX 3060 that will detect Ethereum mining and basically slow the processor down. Crypto nerds reading this probably just spit out their coffee, but before you choke on your Blockchain, Nvidia coupled that announcement last week with the introduction of a new chip designed specifically for Ethereum mining. They call it the Nvidia CMP, which stands for, yup, “Cryptocurrency Mining Processor.”
The chips are not even designed for graphics, just crypto stuff. It’s a sign of the growing importance and pervasiveness of cryptocurrency activities and, as one of my friends on LinkedIn noted, a wickedly smart move by Nvidia.
In a way, Nvidia is part of a trend, Intel applied for a crypto mining chip patent in 2019.
Hello Mars
Last week I was glued to my computer screen, experiencing in real time the 7 minutes of terror as the Mars Rover perseverance shot through the Mars atmosphere on its way to a rendezvous with the Red Planet’s surface. The Rover made a perfect landing, and, within moments, we had our first collection of black and white photos direct from the Perseverance Rover.
It was an incredible moment and a stunning achievement for NASA and its partners. Later we got more images, including one of some rocks near the rover’s treads.
Naturally, we also got some misinformation, not from NASA, but from someone on Twitter. In the most widely shared one, we got a video panorama complete with Mars’ ambient sounds. The problem is that there is no such audio – yet. The Perseverance rover does have some microphones and NASA may be able to deliver audio of the entry and Mars planet sounds but they haven’t done so yet. Even so, this video was widely shared even as space experts sought to damp it down.
It’s just another reminder that in our excitement and rush to share more information on breaking news, we can’t allow ourselves to get so caught up that we also share misinformation. Always verify, then share.
A Near Miss
I first spotted it on Twitter, the terrifying video of a jumbo jet engine blown apart and basically on-fire while in the air. A passenger’s relative shared the video. Minutes later, local Colorado police shared photos of a giant ring from the front of the engine in someone’s front yard. Soon everyone was talking about the disabled plane, and we all breathed a huge sigh of relief when the plane landed safely.
The United Airlines Boeing 777 engine explosion was a terrifying moment for passengers of that flight and those on the ground in Colorado who witnessed hugged pieces of debris landing on their streets and front yards. Yet, even as United grounds all 777s for a safety check, I think this is a relatively positive moment. Think of the engineering expertise that allows a jumbo jet to continue flying with one blown engine, or the skill of the pilots and flight staff. No one died and only one person was injured. Now, United and Boeing can check the rest of the 777s to ensure that none are primed for a similar air mishap.
SpaceX’s rare miss
Are you ready to get Rickrolled in 4K?
Stay well
See you soon
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