We look back at the main topics and most interesting news of March 2022

The most read and discussed news on the first day of the month was “Starlink is here. Thank you, Ilon Musk.” Starlink satellite Internet terminals have been delivered to Ukraine”.

Ilon Musk was asked by Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation Mikhail Fedorov to deploy Starlink satellite internet in Ukraine. The head of SpaceX responded to this request and reported that terminals to connect to Starlink are on their way, and a few days later Fedorov published a photo of a truck with terminals delivered to Ukraine.

Next, the news that Gazprom had announced a colossal purchase of foreign processors, laptops and other electronics worth 12 billion rubles topped the statistics. It reported with reference to the publication CNews, that the purchase of equipment for various subdivisions of “Gazprom” should take place as a result of seven tenders. Gazprom komplektatsiya, a 100% subsidiary of Gazprom, the centralized supplier for Gazprom’s subsidiaries, acted as the ordering party in all seven tenders. The tenders began on February 28 as an open competitive bidding process.

Predictably high interest was aroused by the news that Russia decided to replace the iPhone with a smartphone for 15,000 rubles, and it turned out to be the Russian Ayya T1 from Rostec. The article quotes State Duma deputy Maria Butina, who showed the Russian Ayya T1 smartphone: “You know what, good gentlemen from Apple, why don’t you go to hell! And you, my darlings, witnessed the deputy’s first contact with the Russian-made Ayya T1 smartphone. It was succinct: me and Aya. The main thing in this device is a button to completely disable the camera and microphone. There are no analogues in the world. So the baby Aya – the most reliable phone from prying eyes and ears! We’ll get through this, comrades. Do not even worry. We’ve been through so much.

Butina, in her Telegram channel, urged the State Duma to abandon the iPhone and Samsung and switch to the Ayya T1, specifying that the smartphone, which runs the Android operating system, costs 15 thousand rubles. A Russian Aurora operating system version of the device is scheduled to be launched in May.

Earlier, Apple officially announced the suspension of sales of all products in Russia.

Several times in March, the most popular news on the day of release turned out to be news with statements made by the head of the Russian state corporation Roscosmos. Thus, on April 4, Dmitry Rogozin called Ilon Musk a “murle” for his support of Ukraine, reacting to the aforementioned supplies of Starlink satellite Internet equipment to that country: “This is the murle, as they call it, that I was talking about. But our “maskophiles” said, “This is the torch of world cosmonautics”. This torch – here you go, took the murloom”.

Musk responded by tweeting that Ukrainians were having trouble using the civilian Internet, which was working intermittently. According to Musk, this is probably due to “bad weather.” So SpaceX decided to help the Ukrainians.

The next day, the top request was the news that Dmitry Rogozin had ordered a halt to all Russian rocket launches on behalf of Britain’s OneWeb.

OneWeb has been deploying a constellation of satellites in orbit to provide access to the Web. However, now it will not be able to use Russian launch vehicles for this purpose.

“Preparations for launch are halted, the rocket is removed from the launch pad and returned to the technical complex. The spacecraft should be placed in the assembly and test facility for preservation. All launches from all Russian launch facilities in Kuru, Baikonur, and the Vostochny cosmodrome in the interests of OneWeb should be stopped,” Rogozin said in the news.

This decision was made on the eve of another launch, when Roscosmos asked the British for guarantees of non-military use of the system, but did not receive them. Roskosmos clarified that the cancellation of the launch would not lead to economic damage, since the creation of the rocket and upper stages has already been paid for. The previous launch of OneWeb satellites took place on February 10. Then all 34 devices were successfully injected into orbit.

The topic of satellite Internet was continued by the note that Elon Musk warned Ukrainians about the dangers of Starlink. On his Twitter account he posted a warning about the dangers of using the Starlink satellite internet system in Ukraine: “Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communication system that is still working in some parts of Ukraine, so there is a high probability that it will become a target. Please use Starlink with caution.”

When asked if Starlink could fall victim to a cyberattack from Russia, as it previously did with Viasat, the head of SpaceX answered in the affirmative.

The aforementioned OneWeb story turned out to be the loss of an important customer for Roscosmos, while SpaceX managed to get new orders from NASA. The agency has allocated Ilon Musk’s company $3.5 billion for three manned space flights to the ISS, the first of which could take place at the end of 2023. A statement from the U.S. space agency said SpaceX will provide it with a “seamless opportunity to send people to the international space station.

The automotive theme in March was opened by news not of a new electric car, but that Renault, which owns a controlling stake in Avtovaz, is one step away from leaving Russia. According to Lada.online, the French company has found itself in the most difficult position of all automobile brands present in Russia as a result of the events in Ukraine. It has lost almost 30% of its market value.

According to foreign experts, the French will have to get rid of Avtovaz shares and even leave Russia completely. Meanwhile, the Russian market is the second largest for Renault, and the company has invested 1 billion dollars in the development of the local business. It risks losing about 12% of its total income when it leaves. However, so far neither Renault nor the French government, which is the main shareholder of the company, are talking about leaving.

The news that the supply of Chinese smartphones to Russia collapsed due to the collapse of the ruble couldn’t help but get into the mix. Chinese manufacturers own about 60% of the Russian smartphone market, but according to knowledgeable sources, major suppliers, including Xiaomi, Oppo and Huawei, have cut shipments by at least half since the start of the special military operation.

Chinese companies, and it’s not just smartphone makers, have recently been counting on Russia for their development in foreign markets. Over the past 12 months, trade between the two countries has exceeded $146 billion. However, the sharp fall of the ruble against the dollar has put Chinese companies in a difficult situation – they have to constantly adjust prices to avoid losses. In addition, many Russian smartphone distributors have suspended placing new orders.

Moreover, Russians were warned about the possible blocking of iOS and Android. The head of the Council of the Digital Economy Development Fund German Klimenko said on the air of Radio Sputnik that the blocking of iOS and Android operating systems in Russia is possible. According to him, it is impossible to protect against it, even at the cost of not installing updates.

Earlier, the American company Apple announced the suspension of sales in Russia. In addition, the work of Apple Pay and Google Pay is limited.

An active response from readers was triggered by the news, which reported that the U.S. has come out against the digital yuan. Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith and Marsha Blackburn introduced a bill requiring new standards and guidelines for dealing with the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Bank’s digital currency, the digital yuan. The lawmakers believe that the digital yuan, already used by the State People’s Bank of China, one of the world’s largest central banks, would allow Russia to do without specialized financial messaging systems such as SWIFT.

Meanwhile, China has launched de-dollarization, planning to make the yuan the world’s reserve currency. This, citing Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten, was reported in another news story in the selection. The German publication claims that countries in the Asian region are gradually abandoning the U.S. currency in trade in favor of national currencies.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has developed a plan that builds on China’s incredible success in abandoning the dollar. The governments of these countries are entering into bilateral agreements in national currencies only. Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines have already signed agreements to switch to such transactions in cross-border trade. In addition, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten mentions China’s multibillion-dollar contract with Russia for 30 years for gas supplies and the 10-year extended contract for oil supplies. None of them mentions the dollar.

A publication briefly brought the subject of automobiles back to the forefront, claiming that the cost of automobiles has skyrocketed worldwide because of the refusal to buy metals from Russia. This effect is pronounced because Russia accounts for a huge portion of the world’s supplies.

Aluminum and palladium prices are breaking records, and the cost of nickel has crossed the $100,000 per ton mark for the first time. According to consulting firms LMC Automotive and JD Power, the average price of a new car in the United States in February was $44,460, up 18.5% from February 2021. Car prices are rising in Europe as well.

In the middle of the month, computer-related news finally rose to the top. It is the news “AMD has surrendered to Intel’s onslaught. The company has finally allowed Ryzen 5000 processors to be installed on old motherboards with 300-series chipsets.”

The occasion was AMD’s decision to expand the capabilities of the AM4 platform — already, as the news says, “successful, successful and long-lived.” If earlier motherboards on old 300-series chipsets did not officially support modern Ryzen 5000 processors, now the situation has changed.

The manufacturer introduced several new processor models and said that boards on the X370, B350 and A320 system logic sets should support any AM4 processors without any tricks, as long as their power consumption does not exceed the declared in the board specifications. The corresponding BIOS updates should be released by the board manufacturers in the near future.

The selection continued with a news story claiming that Samsung’s top executives keep apologizing. A week ago, the head of the mobile division Dae Moon Roh (TM Roh) apologized to employees and bosses for the poor performance of gaming services, and now the turn has come to the head of Samsung DX Jung Hee Han (JH Han). He apologized, speaking to shareholders, and for what exactly – see the news.

A large number of inquiries went to the news, which reported that Yandex Russia’s new CEO was fired one day after his appointment. Yandex’s press service confirmed that Tigran Khudaverdyan left the Board of Directors and the post of deputy CEO of Yandex N.V. amid the inclusion in the EU sanctions list.

It was announced the day before that Tigran Khudaverdyan, managing director of the Yandex group of companies, had been appointed CEO of Yandex. He succeeded Elena Bunina, who had worked at Yandex for 15 years.

Users of the Xiaomi Mi Band fitness bracelets can say goodbye to the Mi Fit app. But getting used to the new app will not have to. The news of this became the leader in the number of requests on March 18.

The Mi Fit app on Google Play has already been renamed Zepp Life. Zepp OS is the software platform for Amazfit wearable devices made by Huami. Given that Huami is behind the development of Mi Band, the renaming of Mi Fit into Zepp Life can be seen as an indication that Xiaomi’s new fitness bracelets (Mi Band 7), expected to be released in a few months, will run on Zepp OS. How the Zepp Life app will change by then is still unknown.

The Russian government is preparing for a shortage of data center (datacenter) computing capacity. It is associated with the withdrawal of foreign cloud services from Russia and may lead to problems in the operation of government systems in the near future. In the next news item in the selection, it was claimed that under these conditions, the authorities may seize data centers from companies that have left the country.

An inventory of data center computing equipment that ensures the uninterrupted operation of critical government systems is now underway. It is expected that in two months the country will face a shortage of capacity, so a transition to a simplified procedure for leasing free capacity from commercial data center operators is planned, and even the possibility of withdrawing the resources of those IT companies that have left Russia is being considered.

In March, Russian electronics and household appliance stores began abandoning the practice of selling on credit and in installments. This was reported by the publication Izvestia, citing as examples the Apple re:Store chain, which gave up selling goods on credit, and M.Video-Eldorado, which stopped selling on installments. According to representatives of networks, to stimulate sales of expensive home appliances and electronics in such a way became unprofitable due to increase of the key rate of the Central Bank and the volatility of exchange rates. Representatives of retail chains also explained that the installment plan is essentially a form of discounting, which is simply impossible in today’s reality, given the rise in prices of all goods.

In the second half of the month, it became known that instead of Roscosmos, SpaceX would launch British OneWeb satellites into orbit. The agreement with Ilon Musk’s company stipulates that the first launch will be made this year.

So far, 428 OneWeb satellites have been launched, or 66% of the number needed to fully operate the service. It is likely that the remaining OneWeb satellites will be delivered into orbit by Ilon Musk’s company. The financial side of the agreement remained confidential.

Wallet replenishment service of the Chinese payment system Alipay through “Sberbank” stopped working in Russia. The press service of “Sberbank” reported that this was due to the termination of the Western Union system in Russia. Termination of the service significantly limited the transfer of money by citizens from Russia to China. Meanwhile, according to expert estimates, the volume of such transfers through bank accounts before the imposition of sanctions was about a billion dollars a year, and more than half of the amount accounted for “Sberbank”.

The topic of banks continued with the news “Anonymous claimed to have hacked the Central Bank of the Russian Federation. Official denial was published”.

At the beginning of March, it became known that the number of hacker attacks on government websites had increased by hundreds of times. Information appeared in social networks that the Anonymous hacker group had hacked the systems of the Bank of Russia. The hackers promised to publish more than 35 thousand files, including those containing secret data. However, the press service of the bank denied information about the possible hacking of any of its systems.

There was great interest in the news that there were tests of weapons against drones in the Leningrad region. They were organized by the Information Technologies and Solutions group of companies.

The Situation Center was housed in an airfield building, and a set of Chameleon optical detection and Strizh-3 automatic detection and suppression systems were deployed in the field. The tests also included a demonstration of the Harpoon-3 radio-electronic gun, designed for pinpoint impact on the drone. The main technical data of these systems are given in the news.

Three drones participated in the tests, which differed in size and frequencies used. They were detected by the systems and suppressed automatically or manually.

In an attempt to prove that it had managed to hack the Russian Central Bank website, the hacker group Anonymous posted 28 GB of allegedly stolen information. However, experts did not see anything secret in the “leak”. The main part of the published data is the audit reports of Russian banks 10 years ago or even older. Such information is openly published by either the Central Bank or the banks themselves. The other part of the data are files that are freely available on the official website of the Central Bank.

Since the beginning of March, Russian Visa and MasterCard cardholders have lost the ability to use the payment service Apple Pay, but Mir cardholders have remained “on horseback” for some time. But on March 25 this loophole for Russian Apple Pay users was closed. Apple has officially notified the National System of Payment Cards (NSPC) of the suspension of further use of cards of the “Mir” payment system in the electronic wallet Apple Pay. In response, Russian users collapsed Apple’s Wallet rating.

At the time of writing the news, the app’s rating in the App Store was only 1.5 points out of a possible 5. Note that the branded Wallet app on Apple devices is used to store not only bank cards, but also loyalty cards, passes, boarding passes, and other similar documents.

Unpleasant news for fans of Mitsubishi vehicles was the news that Japan’s Mitsubishi Pajero SUV plant will now produce toilet paper. This is the final of the story that led Mitsubishi to the decision to take the legendary model off the assembly line at Sakahoga plant, unfortunately, it has not undergone any serious upgrades for the last 15 years. Retail sales of the car gradually declined and eventually an agreement was signed to sell the plant to paper manufacturer Daio Paper.

The amount of the deal was $33 million. The sale helped save jobs in the Japanese economy. The new owners will convert the plant to produce paper products, including napkins and toilet paper.

Near the end of the month it was reported that Google would soon shut down another of its services designed for developers. This is the “URL Parameters” service, which will stop working on April 26. Parameters allow you to filter or organize content, in particular by preventing Google’s robots from crawling the same pages on your site. As a result, you can create pages that are identical in terms of content with slightly different parameters. Allegedly, the usefulness of this tool has decreased because Google search has started to better guess which URL parameters are actually useful, and such configurations account for only about 1% of the total. Google notes that users don’t need to do anything about the service being disabled.

On the penultimate day of the month, the winner of the query statistics was news borrowed from criminal summaries: a 34-year-old Muscovite fell asleep in a cab and bought 13 iPhone smartphones worth 14,500 euros with the “help” of intruders.

At the weekend, Roman, an IT guy who had been drinking heavily in a bar, called a cab at two in the morning and drove home. Waking up in the morning, he tried to reconstruct the chronology of events. He remembered briefly two young men of “non-Slavic appearance” shouting at him and then kicking him out of the cab near the subway station.When he picked up his phone, he found the Ozon app, which he had not had until the previous evening. In addition, all of his savings had been spent. The attackers took advantage of Roman’s condition and ordered an urgent delivery of 13 iPhone smartphones. The order was delivered early in the morning. How events developed further is described in the news.

And the selection ends with a news story in which the protagonist is the domestic counterpart of Instagram. As it turns out, the social network Now is a success, with more than 25,000 people registered in just one day.

The mark of 10,000 users was taken in seven hours. Unlike Rossgram, which is not yet operational, the Now app can be installed on both Android and iOS smartphones. Let’s specify that the number of installations on the iPhone has already reached a maximum of 10,000. This is the limitation imposed by Apple on the beta versions. The Android beta is available without any restrictions.

These were the most read and discussed news stories of March. The April selection will be ready in about a month.

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