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‘Concerned’ Think Tanks Beef Up Cybersecurity Following Suspected Russian Hacking

A spokesperson from the German Council on Foreign Relations, Eva-Maria McCormack, said the think tank was “concerned” that it was the target of cyberattacks last year and that it was implementing measures to counter future threats. McCormack made the comments to RFE/RL a day after Microsoft said European think tanks were targeted by suspected Russian hackers.

Valve has some new thoughts on what’s “humanly possible” in SteamVR

The kind of Beat Saber levels that require hand movements that were once considered superhuman by SteamVR developers.

Over the years, Valve has made dozens of changes to the system-level software behind SteamVR. Most of them aren’t inherently interesting if you’re not a VR developer. Then there’s the latest update, which Valve says was prompted by a change in the “limits of what we thought was humanly possible for controller motion.”

After looking at “tracking data from Beat Saber experts,” Valve says it had to increase the theoretical limits for how quickly a human can move in VR. In the comments, Valve developer Ben Jackson details how top-level Beat Saber players were sometimes overwhelming the “internal sanity checks” that make sure SteamVR’s lighthouse tracking system is working correctly.

“One of these checks relates to how fast we thought it was physically possible for someone to turn their wrist,” Jackson writes. “It turns out that a properly motivated human using a light-enough controller could go faster (3,600 degrees/sec!) than we thought.”

For some context, 3,600 degrees per second is the same as turning your hand from palm up to palm down in just 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds). That’s about four flaps of a hummingbird’s wing or less than half an average blink of an eye. Apparently such wrist speeds aren’t only possible but necessary to hit those flying blocks in some of Beat Saber‘s toughest songs.

Road to VR’s Ben Lang goes into even more detail on why such quick wrist flicks could mess with SteamVR’s tracking algorithm. While SteamVR’s external Lighthouse tracking stations can provide extremely accurate tracking for the position and angle of the handheld controllers, they do so relatively slowly—only about 100 times per second.

Between those ticks, an internal inertial measurement unit (IMU) provides a quicker approximation of rotation and movement on the order of 1,000 times per second. But that quick inertial measurement can be imprecise and “drift” from the controller’s actual position in the real world.

Smoothing that out often requires a prediction algorithm based on where the system expects your hand to go next. Making that smoothing work in a sensible way, in turn, requires certain assumptions based on human kinesiology—assumptions that have apparently been upended by top-level Beat Saber players. That’s an incredible achievement and also a reflection of just how early we are in our understanding of how virtual reality can and should work at the basic human-interface level.

Listing image by Beat Saber

Impossible launches its second-gen burger at CES

CES is, at best, a mixed bag on the food front. It’s certainly true that Las Vegas has a number of world class restaurants, but on most days, you’re either standing in impossibly long lines for terrible convention center fast food or fighting it out for some press center box lunch.

The folks at Impossible Burgers, however, were kind enough to hire Border Grill’s Mary Sue Milliken to help grill up its latest offering at Mandalay Bay in Vegas. The definition of technology is, admittedly, pretty broad at a show like this — so why not launch the latest upgrade to its meat-free burger at the show?

The latest version of the burger contains no meat (naturally), gluten, antibiotics or hormones. It has no cholesterol and about half the fat content of a beef burger, while offering equivalent iron and protein content, according to the company.

As for taste — well, this non-beef eater will believe it when he tries it. Impossible calls it “unprecedented.” I’m honestly not sure what that means in the context of a vegetarian hamburger, but thankfully our video producer Gregory will be on-hand to eat the thing and report back.

The burger will also be available in a number of high profile restaurants across the US starting tomorrow. Here’s the list:

·       Chef David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi (New York City)

·       Chef Traci Des Jardins’ Jardinière and School Night (San Francisco)

·       Chef Brad Farmerie’s Saxon + Parole (New York City)

·       Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger’s Border Grill (California and Nevada)

·       Chef Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese Food (New York City)

·       Chef Chris Cosentino’s Cockscomb (San Francisco) and Jackrabbit (Portland, Ore.)

·       Chef Tal Ronnen’s Crossroads Kitchen (Los Angeles)

·       Chef Michael Symon’s B Spot burger restaurants (Ohio)

·       Chef Sarah Schafer’s Irving Street Kitchen (Portland, Ore.)

·       Chef Jeremy Kittelson’s Linger (Denver)

·       Chef Tony Priolo’s Maillard Tavern (Chicago)

·       Chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette’s Little Donkey (Boston)

·       Hospitality entrepreneur Kyle Brechtel’s Copper Vine (New Orleans)

·       Chef Jennifer Carroll’s Spice Finch (Philadelphia)

·       Chef Pete Blohme’s Sunset Pointe (Fairhope, Alabama)

And here’s famous restaurant guy David Chang on the new burger, “Using animals to make protein is an ancient technology — it hasn’t changed in 10,000 years. It’s ripe for disruption, Impossible Foods’ new recipe represents a quantum leap forward for food tech. This new recipe is a game changer.”

The current version of the Impossible burger is available at 5,000 locations across the U.S.

Job Bulletin

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC or commission) is seeking an experienced, collaborative leader to serve as the commission executive director. In this role the successful candidate will manage the commission’s day-to-day operations and overall organizational performance. This position is included in the Exempt Management Service (Band 4). The salary will be up to a maximum of $122,400 annually, depending on qualifications.
 
This recruitment will remain open until the position is filled; however, review of applications will begin Feb. 26, so it is in the applicant’s best interest to submit their application materials as early as possible. See “How to Apply” below.
 
THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S RESPONSIBILITIES INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO THE FOLLOWING:
 

  • Serves as the commission’s chief executive officer responsible for the day–to-day operations and achieving operational and strategic objectives.
  • Maintains a work environment that fosters respect, integrity, professionalism, accountability and continuous improvement. Takes steps to reinforce these values with the commission’s leadership team.
  • Leads and participates with the commissioners and senior agency leaders in developing agency strategic goals and legislative initiatives. Leads different performance management activities to ensure goals and objectives are met.
  • Ensures commission strategic priorities are reflected in the proper stewardship and allocation of resources.
  • Supervises the members of the commission’s senior management team, which includes agency directors, and has administrative oversight of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC).
  • Represents the commission with industry groups, other state and federal agencies and the Governor’s office. Serves as the commission’s Tribal Liaison.
  • Over the next year, lead the efforts to modernize our workplace with a planned move to Lacey, Washington. (See first bullet under Agency Overview below).

 
REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS
 

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher with major study in business administration, political science, public administration, finance, or related discipline.
  • A minimum of five years of experience as a mid-level or higher manager including:
    • Leading teams with a collaborative leadership style.
    • Linking management and administrative efforts to improving program performance.
    • Taking risks and experimenting in an effort to improve service to customers.
  • Exceptional interpersonal and communications skills; able to adapt communications to technical, professional and managerial audiences; negotiate effectively with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Professional work experience characterized by increasingly responsible positions.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead positive organizational change.

DESIRED QUALIFICATIONS

In addition to the required qualifications, preference will be given to candidates with the following qualifications:
 

  • Experience working with operational principles and rules related to state government agencies including requirements of the Open Public Meetings, Administrative Procedure and Public Records laws, and various administrative rules, including those related to personnel, contracting, purchasing and ethical conduct.
  • Knowledge of: commission goals, objectives and strategies, as well as the collective bargaining agreement; economic and safety regulatory theory and practice related to regulated utility and transportation companies, including relevant federal and state laws, rules, and regulations as well as the requirements of relevant commission orders; the commission’s operating environment and factors affecting the industries regulated by the commission; and the commission goals, strategies,objectives administrative policy, and practice.

 
AGENCY OVERVIEW
 
The UTC has been regulating the rates, services and practices of privately-owned utility and transportation companies since 1905. The commission also enforces safety practices for transportation, pipeline and railroad companies in partnership with federal agencies.
 
The mission of the UTC is to protect the people of Washington by ensuring that investor-owned utility and transportation services are safe, available, reliable and fairly-priced.
 
 For more information about the UTC, see our website www.utc.wa.gov – or visit www.twitter.com/wautc and www.facebook.com/wautc
 
At the UTC, we recognize that our employees are the key to the agency’s success. We are committed to our work, but value its balance with our personal lives. We demonstrate our commitment to employees by providing an environment that stimulates professional growth, and provides learning opportunities, meaningful work, and a comprehensive benefits package. For more information about benefits, please visit http://www.utc.wa.gov/aboutUs/careers/Pages/Working-at-UTC.aspx.
 
The UTC is a great place to work, and we have implemented several initiatives, and are developing additional ones that create a great working environment, including:

  • We are making exciting steps towards modernizing our workplace with a planned move to Lacey, Washington, which will inspire workspaces that promote creative thought, innovation, and collaboration among co-workers, and improve building security and employee safety.
  • We support a healthy work/life balance by offering flexible/alternative work schedules and mobile and telework options. (depending on job duties)
  • We have a formal mentoring program to provide and encourage employee growth and development, while also promoting informal mentoring relationships and sharing of knowledge across the commission.
  • We have an Infant at Work Program that is based on the long-term values of breastfeeding newborns and infant-parent bonding. Eligible employees who are new mothers, fathers, or legal guardians can bring their infant (six weeks to six months) when returning to work. (depending on job duties and work location)
  • We have an engaging wellness program that addresses all nine elements of wellness: spiritual, physical, social, environmental, occupational, emotional, intellectual, nutritional, and financial. The UTC has received the state’s Zo8 award the past three years for our achievement in building a sustainable wellness program.

 
HOW TO APPLY

Please do not click on the “Apply” link at the top of this posting. Persons interested in this position must submit a letter of interest describing how you possess the required and desired qualifications we are seeking, resume, salary history, and a minimum of five professional references, including at least one supervisor, one peer, and one subordinate.

Please submit your application materials to susan.holman@utc.wa.gov

If you have any questions regarding this recruitment, please call Susan Holman at (360) 664-1243 or e-mail susan.holman@utc.wa.gov.
 
Conditions of Employment:
 

  • Conflict of Interest: RCW 80.01.020 limits the UTC’s ability to employ any person who owns stock in any company the UTC regulates or is otherwise financially interested in such company. Such interests include those of an employee’s spouse.
  • Possess a valid driver’s license to operate a state vehicle.

 
Visit these links to learn more about:
 
The state of Washington http://access.wa.gov,
The Olympia area www.co.thurston.wa.us or
www.Olympiawa.gov
 
The Utilities and Transportation Commission is an equal opportunity employer. We strive to create a working environment that includes and respects cultural, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and gender identity diversity. Women, racial, and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, persons over 40 years of age, disabled and Vietnam era veterans and people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are encouraged to apply. Persons needing accommodation in the application process or this announcement in an alternative format may contact Susan Holman, Human Resources, (360) 664-1243, or Susan.Holman@utc.wa.gov. Our statewide toll free TTY number is 1-800-416-5289.