Learn computer science and more intriguing STEM courses with innovative Brilliant learning

You hear the terms all the time. Artificial intelligence. Neural networks. Machine learning. But even as a tech savvy consumer who might understand what those terms mean, does that mean you actually understand how a computer thinks for itself? Or how to craft an algorithm? Or what decision trees do? 

There’s smart – and then there’s rubber-meets-the-road smart. If you’ve got the world’s greatest app idea, maybe it’s time to learn enough about computer science to actually make your idea real. 

Nobody’s gonna say that’s easy. But for inquisitive, engaged people interested in acquiring new skills and knowledge, there are pathways to make even some of the most technical learning fun. 

Math and science and computer science are in-demand skills that require some real time and investment to master. However, STEM training in those fields doesn’t have to be boring readings with boring lectures stuffed into boring coursework. 

Thankfully, there are options for motivated go-getters to build that kind of education with some life and purpose behind it, all with a little help.

Brilliant is training engineered to engage active learners

Brilliant respects ambitious learners, people who want to learn how to think and problem-solve rather than memorize formulas and rules without context.

With a Brilliant membership, thoughtful, focused users can really delve into complex math and science topics in more than 60 courses filled with engaging storytelling, eye-opening code-writing, and interactive challenges to open up these complex fields in whole new ways.

Brilliant users can concretely improve their STEM skills and thinking, whether that’s for succeeding in school, brushing up on some foundational knowledge, or for taking a big step in professional development. Brilliant offers interactive lessons and problems that open up opportunities for experimentation, as students break down difficult concepts visually. 

Brilliant knows that learning should be fun. In a course like The Joy of Problem Solving, learners engage with if/then statement exercises, coin rearranging puzzles, and even play a fun game of sleuthing out whether someone is a vampire. It’s all enjoyable and breezy on the surface, but the training is actually helping students use the steps to put order to their thoughts and ultimately make better decisions as a result.

Meanwhile, each course takes another of these potentially dry, perplexing knowledge areas and presents them with style and smarts. Applied Probability training sounds like it could be boring – but not if it’s full of dice games and relatable lessons about how statistics actually work in physics, the weather, and even our favorite sports.

Steeped in real world examples, these courses live to reveal their eureka moment, that moment when everything falls into place and a student finally gets it. From cryptocurrency to pseudocode, eureka moments are all over Brilliant. It’s all just about where you get started.

Get Brilliant now

Right now, knowledge-seekers can get a true taste of everything available to the full Brilliant member with a quick spin through the Brilliant website. After checking out samples and surveying their roster of courses, learners can walk in and begin mastering math and science fundamentals for as low as less than $12.50 a month on their monthly and annual membership plans. Plus, The first 200 to sign up will receive a discount of 20% on an annual subscription.

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Intel might have a plan to keep up with Moore’s Law

Intel is a company in a spot of bother: TSMC, Apple, and other rivals are outpacing its chip technology and Moore’s Law – literally created by Intel’s founder – is starting to cause the chipmaker some headaches.

However a patent unearthed by Twitter user @Underfox3 has found that the company could well be developing a plan: stacking transistors on top of each other for better performance in less space. Now, of course, this is only a patent – companies patent weird and whacky things all the time for a variety of reasons, most likely to prevent competitors from getting the jump on them. 

But there is something interesting about Intel thinking its way around the problem of how to squeeze more power into ever-smaller spaces – namely, if this design comes to fruition, Intel could be looking at sub-2 nanometer (nm) processes. 

Patent: Stacked Forksheet Transistors – Intel”The combination of shared-gate stacked nanoribbon transistors with a self-aligned dielectric wall can eventually lead to an ultimately scaled 3D stacked forksheet CMOS architecture. (…)”More details: https://t.co/bJjuD7rlRH pic.twitter.com/ZZvYLNAedWJanuary 13, 2022

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Intel calls the design “stacked forksheet transistors” and you can see why: the transitions would be stacked on top of each other. 

As Intel explains: “A first transistor device includes a first vertical stack of semiconductor channels adjacent to an edge of the backbone. A second transistor device includes a second vertical stack of semiconductor channels adjacent to the edge of the backbone. The second transistor device is stacked on the first transistor device.” 

Intel Stacked Transistors

(Image credit: Intel)

The end result from this extremely nerdy patent application is that Intel could create a 3D vertically-stacked CMOS architecture, allowing for increased transistor counts over today’s current architectures – a huge boost for the company. The company does note however that, as it stands, the constraints are “overwhelming”. 

It’s impossible to tell exactly what kind of performance uplift could be achieved by Intel’s design, and the company conspicuously doesn’t speculate, but TSMC moving from a 5nm process to a 3nm process resulted in 10% to 15% performance gains while using up to 30% less power.

Intel Stacked

(Image credit: Intel)

Whether this patent ever makes it into production or not, it’s interesting to see Intel working through the problem of how to squeeze more power out of less, especially as the company begins its transition under new CEO Pat Gelsinger. A sub-2nm process would be game changing, putting Intel in-line with Apple’s incredibly impressive M1 series processors. 

Via Tom’s Hardware

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Happy Birthday, Macintosh, you weren’t a sure thing

I don’t remember the day the Macintosh launched.

On January 24, 1984, I was still in college, consumed with papers, tests, grades, finding a way to speak to that girl in Tower B, and missed one of the most monumental launches in tech history.

To be fair, personal computers weren’t all that interesting or sexy back then. My Commodore 128 was the ultimate utility device, where I wrote every single college paper and then tried to forget about it.

At school, we had computer labs where we learned BASIC or Fortran, painfully aware of the chasm that existed between these quotidian efforts and Star Trek’s responsive and effortless “Computer.”

Today, we remember the Macintosh with the hagiography of hindsight. It was earth-shattering (or at least screen-shattering if you believed the Super Bowl commercial) and set the stage for all personal computing to follow.

Not so compatible

Apple Lisa Computer

Apple’s Lisa Computer (Image credit: Shutterstock)

At the time, though, the media was consumed with compatibility. A few years into the personal computer revolution, most of which was still happening in offices and, to a lesser extent, academia, unveiling a computer that offered zero interoperability with the IBM PC was at least shocking.

Yes, Apple and Steve Jobs bet the farm on the Macintosh launch, but what’s been lost to memory is how Apple hedged is bets a bit with the Lisa 2, 2/5 and 2/10, 32-bit updates to 1983’s Apple Lisa computer. Despite a graphical desktop, no one remembers the Lisa as a ground-breaking system that made the Macintosh possible, though it clearly was.

The Mac’s desktop (early reports still put “desktop” in quotes as if it was so proprietary and esoteric that it might not outlast the Mac) was even described as similar to Lisa’s, though tech journalists took pains to describe in detail the act of, for instance, dragging an icon on top of an ever-present trashcan icon to delete it. Functions we take for granted are described in terms now reserved for explaining “Bitcoin” to aging parents: “The entry-level personal computer also supports a cut-and-paste feature that allows data from one display window to be electronically transferred to another.”

Despite its ability to open multiple “windows,” the first Macintosh did not even support multi-tasking (the Lisa did).

The big risk

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Apple and Jobs has big dreams for the Macintosh but also recognized the enormous risks of so much investment (a reported $50 million alone on advertising) and attempting things like a just-in-time supply chain (maintaining just weeks of inventory to build and deliver new Macs), something that had never been tried before in computer (or most) American manufacturing.

“Our whole premise for the Macintosh is based on the fact that current technology is not sufficient to reach the tens of millions of people who need personal computers,” Jobs told ComputerWorld on in January 1984, adding, “If the people in this industry do not require radical technical innovation, then this company will not be here in two years’ time.”

Apple’s controversial decision not to support IBM compatible systems directly (there was software that allowed Macs and Lisa computers to act as sort of dummy DOS terminals) did raise some eyebrows. Still, among the Macintosh computer’s earliest supporters was Microsoft.

“To create a new standard takes something that’s not just a bit different. It takes something that’s really new and captures people’s imaginations. Macintosh meets that standard.”

Bill Gates

The company was making a sizeable investment in productivity software for young platform, which ran on an 8 MHz Motorola 68000 CPU. It clearly saw a fresh market opportunity, especially in places where the DOS-running IBM PC had yet to break through (the home, school).

“To create a new standard takes something that’s not just a bit different. It takes something that’s really new and captures people’s imaginations. Macintosh meets that standard,” said, yes, Bill Gates at the time.

Don’t have much

Apple Macintosh Computer

Apple’s classic logo on the back of the original, portable Macintosh. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

With a proprietary OS, almost no software ready at launch (it did have MacWrite and MacPaint, which was described as “a clever graphics package that uses the Mac’s high-resolution screen to the fullest”), and no clear path between it and more established computing options, Macintosh was anything but a sure thing.

In those early days, though, Apple moved quickly. The 256K Macintosh was followed in short order by the Macintosh 512K, then the Macintosh SE, and by 1989, the Macintosh SE30.

I met my first Mac, a 512K model, I think, in 1986. By then there were already some black and white, GUI-based applications including Aldus PageMaker, an excellent desktop publishing application (“no one called anything “apps” in 1986) that let you build entire layouts and print them out, one half at a time, on an Apple LaserWriter printer (the two halves never lined up perfectly).

Having spent college on that old Commodore, the Macintosh was the revelation Jobs promised and Gates foresaw. I was inspired because it was inspiring.

As for the Lisa computer, it was already forgotten, discontinued in 1986.

An icon’s bumpy ride

The Macintosh didn’t sail on through the 21st Century. Apple’s Macintosh II was a failure and the company’s personal computers wouldn’t regain their footing until company founder Steve Jobs, who was ousted from Apple in 1985, returned more than a decade later and relaunched Macintosh as an iconic, cotton-candy colored iMac.

No Mac, however, has quite caught the magic or sparked the zeitgeist like that first portable box. By today’s standards, it’s charmingly underpowered. I loved how tech press at the time described the 512 × 342 pixel resolution 9-inch screen as “high resolution” (your Apple Watch has 448 x 368 pixels). Still for 1984, it was the equivalent of the door between Dorothy’s black and white world and Oz’s colorful wonderland. So many new possibilities. That’s worth remembering and celebrating.

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Even more WordPress themes have serious security backdoors

A recently discovered supply chain attack has reportedly left more than 300,000 WordPress sites at risk of attack. 

Cybersecurity researchers from Jetpack (a security and optimization tool for  WordPress) found that a malicious actor has compromised AccessPress, a developer of themes and add-ons for the website builder.

AccessPress has so far built 40 themes and 53 plugins. All of the free ones have been compromised, so that once installed, they allow the attackers full control over the website. The researchers did not test the commercial ones, and cannot confirm if they’ve been compromised as well. The report also states that the malicious code that grants attackers access, covers its tracks with relative success. The only way to discover if a site was compromised or not, is to use a core file integrity monitoring solution, it was said.

Selling the vulnerability online

So far, researchers have found, the backdoor was used to redirect visitors to malware-dropping and scam sites. Given the complexity of the initial compromise, and the lack of sophistication in the second stage, researchers are inclined to believe that the original malicious actors most likely sold the access to third parties on the dark web.

BleepingComputer says 360,000 websites are using AccessPress’ add-ons and themes. JetPack first discovered the threat in September 2021, while AccessPress pulled them from the store on October 15. After a few months of tackling the issue, the developers issued a new, clean version, of all the affected plugins on January 17.

However, if the site has already been compromised, simply installing the latest version will not remove the backdoor. It will just prevent future threats. So far, BleepingComputer says, the only way to clean up the site is to migrate to a different theme. 

To learn if your site was compromised, WordPress users can follow the instructions found here

Via: BleepingComputer

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New rumors reveal Intel Core i5-12500H and i7-12700H beats out Ryzen 7 5800H in benchmark tests

According to newly leaked benchmarks, the mid-range 12th-generation Alder Lake mobile processors score surprisingly high, just in time for some new gaming laptops to hit the market. 

The test leaks come from both Weibo post from user 金猪升级包 and a video on Bilibili, both featuring scores from Cinebench R20, R23, and the CPU-Z. The Intel Core i5-12500H and i7-12700H beat the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H in every one of them.

The rumored benchmark reveals that the Intel Core i7-12700H is up to 24.78% faster in the single-threaded test against the Ryzen 7 5800H and 34.62% faster in the multi-threaded test.

The i7-12700H is a 14-core/20-thread processor with a base clock speed of 3.5 GHz and a max turbo speed of 4.7 GHz. Meanwhile, the Core i5-12500H is a 12-core and 16-thread SKU allegedly beating out the 11th Gen Tiger Lake H-series flagship i9-11980HK.

Intel’s 12th Gen Core laptop series will be launching in February. Until we get these laptops in our own labs, you should take these performance numbers with a grain of salt. 

Via VideoCardz

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Dark Souls 3 bug could let hackers seize control of your PC

As if Dark Souls 3 wasn’t  already difficult enough, playing it online could open up your computer for malicious actors to swoop in, steal sensitive data, and brick it completely, if they so wished.

A report from Dexerto claims that playing the popular game online comes with a Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerability. RCEs are usually considered among the most dangerous vulnerabilities, as they allow third parties to run any code on the affected device, which includes ransomware, malware, infostealers, and pretty much anything else.

The vulnerability was demonstrated on a live stream from The__Grim__Sleeper, who was streaming the game for his 70,000+ viewers on Twitch when the game crashed, a Microsoft PowerShell opened up by itself, and the text-to-speech feature was triggered, causing Microsoft’s robotic voice to start criticizing the streamer’s skills.

Drawing attention to the problem

As comedic and harmless as the scene may appear, the message was received loud and clear. In fact, it turns out that delivering the message was the whole point, as the hacker behind the attack first tried to contact FromSoftware, Dark Souls developers, to raise awareness about the issue, but was met with silence.

Only then, did the hacker decide to demonstrate the power of the vulnerability in front of a large audience, and it seems to have worked. 

FromSoftware has now shut down its servers for Dark Souls, Dark Souls 2, and Dark Souls 3, which all seem to be vulnerable to the flaw. 

There are even worries that its premiere upcoming game Elden Ring could also be vulnerable, with the company promising to investogate.

According to a report on The Verge, the anti-cheat mod for Dark Souls 3, called Blue Sentinel, which was developed by the game’s community, was patched to protect endpoints against the vulnerability, while Bandai Namco, the game’s publisher, took to Reddit to thank the community for drawing their attention to the flaw.

The servers are expected to come back online once the issue is permanently fixed.

Via: The Verge

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