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Bidding for this like-new Enigma Machine starts at $200,000 – TechCrunch

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If you’re feeling flush this week, then perhaps instead of buying a second Bugatti you might consider picking up this lightly used Enigma Machine. These devices, the scourge of the Allies in World War II, are rarely for sale to begin with — and one in such good shape that was actually used in the war is practically unheard of.

The Enigma saga is a fascinating one, though far too long to repeat here — let it suffice to say that these machines created a code that was close to unbreakable, allowing the Nazis to communicate securely and reliably even with the Allies listening in. But a team of mathematicians and other experts at Bletchley Park in Britain, the most famous of them Alan Turing, managed to crack the Enigma’s code, helping turn the tide of the war. (If you’re interested, a good biography of Turing will of course tell you more, and Simon Singh’s The Code Book tells the story well as part of the history of cryptography.)

The risk of exposure should a machine be captured by the Allies meant that German troops were instructed to destroy their Enigma rather than let it be taken. And at the end of the war, Winston Churchill ordered that any surviving Enigmas be destroyed, but many escaped into the hands of private collectors like the person who got this one. It is thought that only a few hundred remain extant, though as with other such infamous artifacts a precise estimate is impossible.

This machine, however, passed through the fires of World War II and survived not only intact but with its original rotors — the interchangeable parts which would spin in a special fashion to irreversibly scramble text — and only one of its interior light bulbs out. The battery’s shot, but that’s to be expected after so long a duration in storage. If you’re waiting on an Enigma in better condition, expect to be waiting a long time.

Naturally this would be of inestimable value to a deep-pocketed collector of such things (let us hope in good taste) or a museum of war or cryptography. The secrets of the Enigma are long since revealed (even replicated in a pocket watch), but the original machines are marvels of ingenuity that may still yield discoveries and provoke wonder.

Bidding for this Enigma starts at $200,000 on Thursday at Nate D Sanders Auctions. That’s some 10 times what another machine went for 10 years ago, so you can see they’re not getting any less expensive (this one is in better condition, admittedly) — and it seems likely it will fetch far more than the minimum.

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Some Roku smart TVs are now showing banner ads over live TV

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Enlarge / A Roku streaming box. It seems these ads aren’t appearing on Roku’s own hardware like this device; instead, they’re appearing on TVs that license Roku’s software platform.

Some Roku smart TV owners are seeing banner ads appear over live content, according to a thread on the r/cordcutters subreddit.

A user named p3t3or posted the following message:

Welp, this is the last time I purchase or recommend a Roku. After a Sleep Number commercial, I just got a Roku ad sidebar while watching live TV. Really loved the Roku experience up until now, but this is a deal breaker.

The message was accompanied by the following photo:

An ad appears over a sports game on a Sharp-branded TV running Roku software.
Enlarge / An ad appears over a sports game on a Sharp-branded TV running Roku software.

The photo shows a Sharp TV running Roku software and displaying an ad for a bed over a live sports broadcast, plus a prompt to ‘press OK to get offer.”

These ads don’t seem to appear on Roku’s own hardware, like the Roku Ultra, Express, Streambar, or Streaming Stick. Rather, they show up on certain smart TVs running the Roku TV platform—and it might just be certain brands, like Sharp. Some owners of TCL Roku TVs commented that they had not seen the ads.

Fortunately, users in the thread reported that the feature can be disabled in privacy settings. But it’s possible that doing so may disable other Roku features.

Roku’s platform is not the only one adding ads to content. Users have complained previously about ads featured prominently on Samsung’s TVs, and while we haven’t seen reports of ads appearing over live content on LG’s webOS TVs, they do appear in other places in the TV’s software.

Further, some of these platforms collect and monetize user data, as we previously reported about Vizio TVs.

Smart TV platforms offer convenience, but it’s rare for software and services that receive ongoing free support and updates to operate without showing ads, monetizing user data, or both. The profit margins on TVs can be small outside of the high-end part of the market, and supporting software and live services over time costs money, so TV and platform makers are seeking out ways to generate recurring revenue on top of what they get from initial sales.

User complaints like these may reflect a trend to which there is no clear end.

We’ve reached out to Roku for comment and clarification about which devices serve these ads and what the effects of disabling them in settings might be.

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Google kills YouTube Originals, its original video content group

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Variety reports that Google’s original video content group, YouTube Originals, is dead. The YouTube division was founded six years ago to make exclusive, original content for the pay-per-month YouTube Premium service. Now the group is being shuttered, and YouTube’s global head of original content, Susanne Daniels, is leaving the company in March.

Just after the news broke, YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl posted a statement on Twitter:

YouTube is the web’s de facto video site, but Google still tends to chase any hot new web video trend that pops up. YouTube Shorts is a clone of TikTok. YouTube Gaming is a clone of Twitch. YouTube Stores were meant as an answer to Snapchat. YouTube Originals was a swipe at Netflix, which, back in 2016, was turning heads with award-winning shows like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. Back then, the $12-per-month YouTube Premium started life as “YouTube Red,” and its offerings were called YouTube Red Originals.

At first, YouTube took a decidedly YouTube spin on original content and threw big budgets at the platform’s star content creators, resulting in shows like Scare PewDiePie, created by the executive producers of The Walking Dead. YouTube Originals eventually pivoted into more Hollywood-style content and saw some success in 2018 with The Karate Kid sequel Cobra Kai.

We’ve seen this story about a million times covering products by YouTube’s parent company, Google: after a new initiative does not achieve immediate, incredible success, Google starts scaling back its plans after about two years. By the end of 2018, reports surfaced that YouTube was scaling back its scripted video plans, and that YouTube Originals would go ad-supported, just like normal YouTube video. YouTube Originals’ more successful projects moved on to other video services, with Netflix picking up Cobra Kai for seasons 3 and 4.

Today, YouTube Premium is still around for $12 a month. The main perks are ad-free YouTube and YouTube Music, while the mobile app gets background playback and the ability to download content for offline use.

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Microsoft fixes Patch Tuesday bug that broke VPN in Windows 10 and 11

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Aurich Lawson

Microsoft’s monthly Patch Tuesday updates for Windows are generally meant to fix problems, but that isn’t how it always goes. January’s updates, released last week, caused a handful of problems for businesses in particular. The most serious, especially for people still dealing with pandemic-driven remote-work setups, was a bug that broke certain kinds of VPN connections. Microsoft has provided fixes for this and other issues as of today, a few days after acknowledging the problem on its Known Issues page.

According to Microsoft’s documentation and reporting from Bleeping Computer, the VPN connection issues affected “IPSEC connections which contain a Vendor ID,” as well as L2TP and IPSEC IKE VPN connections in Windows 10, Windows 11, and Windows Server versions 2022, 20H2, 2019, and 2016. Windows’ built-in VPN client seems to be the most commonly affected, but third-party VPN clients using these kinds of connections could also run into the error.

The latest round of Patch Tuesday updates also caused some problems for Windows Server, including unexpected reboots for domain controllers and failed boots for Hyper-V virtual machines. These problems have all been resolved by other out-of-band patches, though not before causing problems for beleaguered IT admins.

Microsoft has also resolved a problem that caused ReFS-formatted drives to not show up at all or to show up as raw, unformatted disks. Microsoft has also fixed this problem, though not before blaming the problem on the “unsupported” use of ReFS on removable drives. The ReFS filesystem was supported in the consumer versions of Windows for a few years, though Microsoft removed the ability to create ReFS drives a few years ago, restricting it to servers and the enterprise editions of Windows.

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