Hashtag Trending Nov.29- Fake women in the speaker’s list of a tech conference; Wooden data centres; Link between poor mental health and internet usage a myth?

A conference puts fake women in its speaker’s list to showcase diversity?, Global authorities arrest members of a major ransomware group, the potential of wooden data centers and is the association between poor mental health and internet usage a myth?

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These and more top tech stories on Hashtag Trending.

I’m your host James Roy.

DevTernity, a coding conference has been canceled after allegations surfaced that there were one or more fake women in the speaker’s list.

Eduards Sizovs, the organizer of the conference confirmed the presence of at least one fake speaker,and said “The wrong conclusion has been made: we’ve done that to ‘boost diversity.’ And that’s a big and wrong ouch,”

Gergely Orosz, author of The Pragmatic Engineer newsletter flagged the fake profiles on social media.

One of the suspected fake speakers is Anna Boyko, purportedly a staff engineer at Coinbase and Ethereum core contributor. Orosz said she did not exist, and her name was removed from the speakers’ list.

Coinbase also confirmed that it was not aware of any employees speaking at the conference.

Another dubious profile was Alina Prokhoda, said to be a Microsoft MVP and WhatsApp senior engineer and whose name also vanished off the speakers’ list. No trace of hers could be found online either.

Meanwhile, Liz Fong-Jones, field CTO at Honeycomb.io pointed out that the Instagram posts of a popular female coding influencer largely mirror those of Eduards Sizovs, the very organizer of DevTernity.

​Scott Hanselman who works on the Web Platform Team at Microsoft and who was scheduled to speak said, “I remind all tech conference organizers that there are THOUSANDS of speakers of all walks of life, genders, ages, and backgrounds.”

Source: The Register, Engadget

Law enforcement agencies from seven nations have arrested the core members of a ransomware group linked to the attacks of more than 250 servers belonging to organizations in 71 countries. These attacks netted the group hundreds of millions of euros.

Europol said that five individuals were arrested in Ukraine including the 32-year-old leader of the group and four of its “most active accomplices.”

This operation follows other arrests in 2021 when the police detained 12 more suspects that were part of the same ransomware group linked to attacks against 1800 victims in 71 countries.

The cybercriminals would normally deploy different types of ransomware such as LockerGoga, MegaCortex, HIVE, and Dharma, and then present a ransom note to the victim to pay the attackers in bitcoin in exchange for decryption keys. They also use malware like Trickbot and post-exploitation tools such as Cobalt Strike in their attacks.

A spokesperson for Europol said that the latest arrest has led to the dismantlement of the group but that  there are still a few members which are being sought after, though they are of lesser importance.”

Source: The Register, Bleeping Computer

Are wooden data centers the key to sustainable design? 

Vertiv, a US-based manufacturer of turnkey digital infrastructure solutions seems to think so.

The company introduced TimberMod, a modular wooden data center concept that’s designed to help organizations reduce their carbon footprint and meet their sustainability goals.

This comes as issues around data center emissions are sounding alarm bells for harming the environment, especially as demand for data centers continue to boom.

Data centers are often primarily composed of non-renewable resources like steel and cement. Cement, for instance, is said to account for around 8 per cent of global carbon emissions.

Timber buildings, on the other hand, are sourced from sustainably harvested wood. 

Now, it’s fair to ask about fire safety- is wood suitable for housing servers and other power-hungry equipment?  Chief technology officer, Mikael Svanfeldt at Swedish-based EcoDataCenter explained that cross-laminated timber is different from normal wood and is actually self-extinguishing due to the lamination.

Vladimir Galabov, research director at Omdia’s cloud and data center unit said, “Prefabricated data centers can already shorten build time by 40-80%. The initial indication is that prefabricated modules made of timber are quicker to build than their steel or composite material alternatives, further shortening build time. It’s time to open our minds and embrace this solution which can reduce a data center building’s carbon footprint by two-thirds.”

Source: Data Center Knowledge

Reddit might be weighing yet another IPO. 

In December 2021, the company filed a draft registration statement with the SEC to go public. That was right after Reddit bagged in a beefy $410 million financing led by Fidelity, valuing it at $10 billion. 

Then, in January of 2022, Reddit even got Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to work on the listing. At the time, it was considering a valuation of as much as $15 billion.

The IPO waters got eclipsed with Reddit’s war against the moderators but it’s now back on the table.

It is not known at what valuation it would go public next year if it does go through with the offering. The company has not commented on the rumours.

Source: Tech Crunch

There have been age old claims on the negative impact of internet use, social media, smartphones etc. But a recent study from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) seems to debunk that long-held belief.

The researchers gathered data from 2.4 million people, between the ages of 15 and 89 in 168 countries between 2005 and 2022.

The report looked at the psychological well being of the participants based on self-reports of life satisfaction, positive experiences, and negative experiences. This was then contrasted against each country’s internet and mobile broadband adoption over the past two decades.

The study also looked  at mental health using meta-analytic rates of anxiety, depression, and self-harm over 20 years and their associations with internet-technology adoption.

The researchers concluded that there have been only small and inconsistent changes in global well-being and mental health across the past twenty years and this is despite the increase in global internet usage.

One author of the research said, “It is indeed possible that there are smaller and more important things going on, but any sweeping claims about the negative impact of the internet globally should be treated with a very high level of skepticism.”

However, the report agreed with other studies on the association between social media use and life satisfaction being more negative at specific time windows in adolescence.

Meta, for instance, came under fire recently doing very little to protect the mental health of younger users on its platforms and allegedly even actively coveting and targeting these demographics.

The study called on technology firms to be more open with their information for the sake of studies like these.

Source: TechSpot

And that’s the top tech news for today.

Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show we call “the Weekend Edition.”

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I’m your host James Roy.  Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

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