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The Black Hole: It’s time for Apple to ditch the MacOS trash can



Black hole image captured for the first time (CNET)
Every image of a black hole you’ve seen was just an illustration. Until now. The Event Horizon Telescope captures one of the most powerful objects in existence. And basically, it’s the Eye of Sauron.

If you haven’t heard the news this week, an international team of scientists from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration photographed and confirmed the existence of Powehi: the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy Messier 87, which is over 55 million light years away, has the mass of over 6.5 billion suns, and has a radius wider than our entire solar system.

It is a very, very big black hole, and it is beautiful and utterly frightening.

It was imaged with 5 petabytes of collected data from a network of geographically dispersed radio telescopes around the world, using a computer algorithm created by a young post-doctoral student from MIT, Katie Bouman.

Of the many very important things about this discovery, this is what stands out for me: How it has put science front and center, reminding us that incredible mysteries in the universe are yet to be revealed to us, and that the end products of hard scientific research can be fun, exciting, educational and terrifying all at the same time.

And most importantly, black holes. Black freakin’ holes, people. We finally got to see one.

I have always loved black holes. The very idea — that these monsters are sitting out there in the universe, devouring stars and other stellar objects like giant vacuum cleaners — was an awesome thought to grow up with. 

As a 10-year-old boy, back in 1979, I was a huge fan of the Disney film, The Black Hole, one of the last movies to be produced before the company’s old studio system was dismantled and Disney moved full-time into animated features. 

It was creepy, dark, but also wacky. It had a big $20 million budget ($96 million in 2019 dollars adjusted for inflation) and had a star-studded, old Hollywood cast that included Anthony Perkins, Ernest Borgnine, Yvette Mimieux, and Maximillian Schell. 

The acting was wooden, and sometimes the effects looked really chintzy due to the limitations of the technology in use and how they rushed it out as a response to the first Star Wars film, a property it would own and exploit decades later. But man, I loved this movie. It had probably the coolest evil robot to ever hit the silver screen — Maximillian — that looked like it came straight out of hell. 

While the movie made Disney some money, compared to feature films the studio releases now, The Black Hole would be considered a flop. But with this week’s discovery, boy does it deserve to either be re-made or to have a special edition re-released with a full film remaster.

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The film put black holes into my teenage zeitgeist. But in college, back in 1988, it would be supplanted by something else — a computer system.

Not just any computer system: The NeXT Computer. Arguably, this is the computer system that is 100 percent responsible for Apple becoming the company that it is today. But back then, it was Rogue Apple. 

In September of 1985, Steve Jobs was kicked out of the company he founded by Apple’s board of directors, and went on to do other things. In addition to founding Pixar — a firm which pioneered computer graphics in the entertainment industry and is now known for producing such landmark animated Disney films as Toy Story, Cars, Wall-E, Up, The Incredibles, Brave and Coco — Jobs founded NeXT.

During its time as an independent company, NeXT could be best remembered for its esoteric, expensive nature and its ultra modern, minimalist industrial design — both traits that carry on in Apple products to this very day. A single NeXT Computer in 1988 cost $6,500.00 — which was hardly affordable to the higher education market it was being targeted to at the time. 

The NeXT ran on a Mach-based, graphical UNIX operating system that had an object-oriented programming language, Objective C, which remains in use on Apple systems to this very day. It used a 650MB, read-write magneto-optical storage drive designed by Canon and was ahead of writeable CD-ROM products used on PCs by about a decade. It had built-in integrated Ethernet networking and a TCP/IP stack, built-in digital audio, and a high-resolution graphics display, the “Megapixel”. In every respect, the product was way ahead of its time. 

It will probably also be remembered as the system that Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, used to create the first version of httpd on at CERN.

But what do I remember most about NeXT and its operating system? It didn’t have a trash can like Mac and Windows did. It had a Black Hole. So freaking cool.


NeXTStep 0.8 with Black Hole.

(Image: ZDNet)

In NeXTStep, the Black Hole was an icon that docked at the corner of the screen wherever you put it. You tossed stuff in there, it was toast. You purged your Workspace with it. It was a very Zen-like experience, especially for a 20-year-old college student in the late 1980s.

Eventually NeXT got rid of the Black Hole and went to a “Recycler.” How boring and corporate. As a company, NeXT was a failure. Unable to make a go of building these esoteric, expensive computers for universities and academia, they eventually fired most of their 200 or so employees and ported their software to Intel x86 systems as the OpenStep OS. 

In December of 1996, the company was acquired by Apple for $450 million, which at the time was undergoing its own financial difficulties and was unable to complete its homegrown next-generation OS, Copeland. With his return to the company he founded, Steve Jobs again took the helm as CEO. What followed, of course, was history — the iPod, the iMac. And MacOS and iOS.

Today Apple is a consumer electronics powerhouse that is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. MacOS arguably is one of the coolest operating systems on the market today. But you know what it doesn’t have? An appropriately cool way of getting rid of your trash.

Also: Apple’s first employee: The remarkable odyssey of Bill Fernandez 

Let’s face it, the MacOS trash can is dated. It looks like it is made of transparent plastic, and when it gets filled up, it appears unsightly. It doesn’t represent the 21st century ideal of having a green solution to removing digital refuse. If Steve Jobs were alive today, I think he would agree that it is in need of a makeover.


If Apple had a black hole trash can, it could be a floating hole you drag anywhere on the desktop, and it’ll distort the graphics around it in a swirling motion. Drag stuff in there, and it’ll stretch as it falls into the event horizon and disappears forever.

(Image: ZDNET)

The Black Hole in NeXTStep made its appearance over 30 years ago. This week, a dedicated team of scientists revealed a real one, using various leading-edge technologies which undoubtedly were assisted by Apple’s products in some way. In fact, you can very clearly see Katie Bouman using a MacBook Pro the very moment the imaging data collected by the EHT begins its integration process (on an Ubuntu Linux compute cluster) in a Smithsonian Channel special, Black Hole Hunters, which premieres today. 

We have been presented with an opaque, frightening monster of singularity, extreme gravity, and improbable mass that lurks in the darkness of space, 55 million light years away. One of perhaps millions or billions that sit out there in a black void, devouring everything around it.

I believe to commemorate this scientific achievement, Apple should remove the “Trash” in MacOS — and also in iOS — and replace it with an updated version of the NeXT Black Hole. Sure, Dark Mode is great, but a Black Hole? Microsoft doesn’t have one in Windows. Neither does Google in Android or Chrome OS. It is fitting with the uniqueness of Apple.

Being Amazingly Great is knowing when to bring back the old. As a wonder of the the universe, black holes fit the very definition of amazingly great, and old. Some almost as old as the universe itself. 

Should Apple bring back the NeXT Black Hole in MacOS and iOS to commemorate the discovery by the EHT Collaboration? Talk Back and Let Me Know. 

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Cymulate snaps up $70M to help cybersecurity teams stress test their networks with attack simulations – TechCrunch



The cost of cybercrime has been growing at an alarming rate of 15% per year, projected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. To cope with the challenges that this poses, organizations are turning to a growing range of AI-powered tools to supplement their existing security software and the work of their security teams. Today, a startup called Cymulate — which has built a platform to help those teams automatically and continuously stress test their networks against potential attacks with simulations, and provide guidance on how to improve their systems to ward off real attacks — is announcing a significant round of growth funding after seeing strong demand for its tools.

The startup — founded in Tel Aviv, with a second base in New York — has raised $70 million, a Series D that it will be using to continue expanding globally and investing in expanding its technology (both organically and potentially through acquisitions).

Today, Cymulate’s platform covers both on-premise and cloud networks, providing breach and attack simulations for endpoints, email and web gateways and more; automated “red teaming”; and a “purple teaming” facility to create and launch different security breach scenarios for organizations that lack the resources to dedicate people to a live red team — in all, a “holistic” solution for companies looking to make sure they are getting the most out of the network security architecture that they already have in place, in the worlds of Eyal Wachsman, Cymulate’s CEO.

“We are providing our customers with a different approach for how to do cybersecurity and get insights [on]  all the products already implemented in a network,” he said in an interview. The resulting platform has found particular traction in the current market climate. Although companies continue to invest in their security architecture, security teams are also feeling the market squeeze, which is impacting IT budgets, and sometimes headcount in an industry that was already facing a shortage of expertise. (Cymulate cites figures from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology that estimate a shortfall of 2.72 million security professionals in the workforce globally.)

The idea with Cymulate is that it’s built something that helps organizations get the most out of what they already have. “And at the end, we provide our customers the ability to prioritize where they need to invest, in terms of closing gaps in their environment,” Wachsman said.

The round is being led by One Peak, with Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE), Vertex Ventures Israel, Vertex Growth and strategic backer Dell Technologies Capital also participating. (All five also backed Cymulate in its $45 million Series C last year.) Relatively speaking, this is a big round for Cymulate, doubling its total raised to $141 million, and while the startup is not disclosing its valuation, I understand from sources that it is around the $500 million mark.

Wachsman noted that the funding is coming on the heels of a big year for the startup (the irony being that the constantly escalating issue of cybersecurity and growing threat landscape spells good news for companies built to combat that). Revenues have doubled, although it’s not disclosing any numbers today, and the company is now at over 200 employees and works with some 500 paying customers across the enterprise and mid-market, including NTT, Telit, and Euronext, up from 300 customers a year ago.

Wachsman, who co-founded the company with Avihai Ben-Yossef and Eyal Gruner, said he first thought of the idea of building a platform to continuously test an organization’s threat posture in 2016, after years of working in cybersecurity consulting for other companies. He found that no matter how much effort his customers and outside consultants put into architecting security solutions annually or semi-annually, those gains were potentially lost each time a malicious hacker made an unexpected move.

“If the bad guys decided to penetrate the organization, they could, so we needed to find a different approach,” he said. He looked to AI and machine learning for the solution, a complement to everything already in the organization, to build “a machine that allows you to test your security controls and security posture, continuously and on demand, and to get the results immediately… one step before the hackers.”

Last year, Wachsman described Cymulate’s approach to me as “the largest cybersecurity consulting firm without consultants,” but in reality the company does have its own large in-house team of cybersecurity researchers, white-hat hackers who are trying to find new holes — new bugs, zero days and other vulnerabilities — to develop the intelligence that powers Cymulate’s platform.

These insights are then combined with other assets, for example the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a knowledge base of threats, tactics and techniques used by a number of other cybersecurity services, including others building continuous validation services that compete with Cymulate. (Competitors include the likes of FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, Randori, AttackIQ and many more.)

Cymulate’s work comes in the form of network maps that detail a company’s threat profile, with technical recommendations for remediation and mitigations, as well as an executive summary that can be presented to financial teams and management who might be auditing security spend. It also has built tools for running security checks when integrating any services or IT with third parties, for instance in the event of an M&A process or when working in a supply chain.

Today the company focuses on network security, which is big enough in itself but also leaves the door open for Cymulate to acquire companies in other areas like application security — or to build that for itself. “This is something on our roadmap,” said Wachsman.

If potential M&A leads to more fundraising for Cymulate, it helps that the startup is in one of the handful of categories that are going to continue to see a lot of attention from investors.

“Cybersecurity is clearly an area that we think will benefit from the current macroeconomic environment, versus maybe some of the more capital-intensive businesses like consumer internet or food delivery,” said David Klein, a managing partner at One Peak. Within that, he added, “The best companies [are those] that are mission critical for their customers… Those will continue to attract very good multiples.”

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Open-source password manager Bitwarden raises $100M – TechCrunch



Bitwarden, an open-source password manager for enterprises and consumers, has raised $100 million in a round of funding led by PSG, with participation form Battery Ventures.

Founded initially back in 2015, Santa Barbara, California-based Bitwarden operates in a space that includes well-known incumbents including 1Password, which recently hit a $6.8 billion valuation off the back of a $620 million fundraise, and Lastpass, which was recently spun out as an independent company again two years after landing in the hands of private equity firms.

In a nutshell, Bitwarden and its ilk make it easier for people to generate secure passwords automatically, and store all their unique passwords and sensitive information such as credit card data in a secure digital vault, saving them from reusing the same insecure password across all their online accounts.

Bitwarden’s big differentiator, of course, lies in the fact that it’s built atop an open-source codebase, which for super security-conscious individuals and businesses is a good thing — they can fully inspect the inner-workings of the platform. Moreover, people can contribute back to the codebase and expedite development of new features.

On top of a basic free service, Bitwarden ships a bunch of paid-for premium features and services, including advanced enterprise features like single sign-on (SSO) integrations and identity management.


It’s worth noting that today’s “minority growth investment” represents Bitwarden’s first substantial external funding in its seven year history, though we’re told that it did raise a small undisclosed series A round back in 2019. Its latest cash injection is indicative of how the world has changed in the intervening years. The rise of remote work, with people increasingly meshing personal and work accounts on the same devices, means the same password is used across different services. And such poor password and credential hygiene puts businesses at great risk.

Additionally, growing competition and investments in the management space means that Bitwarden can’t rest on its laurels — it needs to expand, and that is what its funds will be used for. Indeed, Bitwarden has confirmed plans to extend its offering into several aligned security and privacy verticals, including secrets management — something that 1Password expanded into last year via its SecretHub acquisition.

“The timing of the investment is ideal, as we expand into opportunities in developer secrets, passwordless technologies, and authentication,” Bitwarden CEO Michael Crandell noted in a press release. “Most importantly, we aim to continue to serve all Bitwarden users for the long haul.”

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downgrade the ‘middle-men’ resellers – TechCrunch



As well as the traditional carbon offset resellers and exchanges such as Climate Partner or Climate Impact X the tech space has also produced a few, including Patch (US-based, raised $26.5M) and Lune (UK-based, raised $4M).

Now, Ceezer, a B2B marketplace for carbon credits, has closed a €4.2M round, led by Carbon Removal Partners with participation of impact-VC Norrsken VC and with existing investor Picus Capital. 

Ceezer ’s pitch is that companies have to deal with a lot of complexity when considering how they address carbon removal and reduction associated with their businesses. Whie they can buy offsetting credits, the market remains pretty ‘wild-west’, and has multiple competing standards running in parallel. For instance, the price range of $5 to $500 per ton is clearly all over the place, and sometimes carbon offset resellers make buyers pay high prices for low-quality carbon credits, pulling in extra revenues from a very opaque market.

The startup’s offering is for corporates to integrate both carbon removal and avoidance credits in one package. It does this by mining the offsetting market for lots of data points, enabling carbon offset sellers to reach buyers without having to use these middle-men resellers.

The startup claims that sellers no longer waste time and money on bespoke contracts with corporates but instead use Ceezer’s legal framework for all transactions. Simultaneously, buyers can access credits at a primary market level, maximizing the effect of the dollars they spend on carbon offsets.

Ceezer says it now has over 50 corporate customers and has 200,000 tons of carbon credits to sell across a variety of categories.
 and will use the funds to expand its impact and sourcing team, the idea being to make carbon removal technologies more accessible to corporate buyers, plus widen the product offering for credit sellers and buyers.

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