Feed aggregator

  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.

Review: The Green Knight weaves a compelling coming-of-age fantasy quest

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/31/2021 - 9:55am
Dev Patel stars as Gawain—nephew to King Arthur and an aspiring knight—in <em>The Green Knight</em>, filmmaker David Lowery's mesmerizing adaptation of the 14th-century anonymous poem, <em>Sir Gawain and the Green Knight</em>.

Enlarge / Dev Patel stars as Gawain—nephew to King Arthur and an aspiring knight—in The Green Knight, filmmaker David Lowery's mesmerizing adaptation of the 14th-century anonymous poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. (credit: A24)

The tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, immortalized in a 14th-century anonymous poem, is among the most popular of the Arthurian legends, second only to the quest for the Holy Grail. Yet I would argue that it has never been successfully adapted to film—until now. Director David Lowery's new film, The Green Knight, takes some necessary liberties with the source material. But he also artfully weaves in elements and symbols from that source material to create a darkly brooding fantasy quest that is just as richly textured and layered as the medieval poem on which it is based.

(Major spoilers for the 14th-century medieval poem below; some additional spoilers for the film are below the gallery.)

Let's lay out the basics of the original poem before discussing the clever ways in which Lowery (A Ghost Story, Pete's Dragon) has reimagined it. As I've written previously, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight falls into the chivalric romance genre, relating a well-known story from Arthurian legend in distinctively alliterative verse. (Alliteration was all the rage at the time. I highly recommend J.R.R. Tolkien's translation from 1925 or Simon Armitage's 2008 translation, recently revised.) 

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

With help from Google, impersonated Brave.com website pushes malware

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/31/2021 - 8:46am
With help from Google, impersonated Brave.com website pushes malware

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Scammers have been caught using a clever sleight of hand to impersonate the website for the Brave browser and using it in Google ads to push malware that takes control of browsers and steals sensitive data.

The attack worked by registering the domain xn--brav-yva[.]com, an encoded string that uses what’s known as punycode to represent bravė[.]com, a name that when displayed in browsers address bars is confusingly similar to brave.com, where people download the Brave browser. Bravė[.]com (note the accent over the letter E) was almost a perfect replica of brave.com, with one crucial exception: the “Download Brave” button grabbed a file that installed malware known both as ArechClient and SectopRat.

(credit: Jonathan Sampson)

From Google to malware in 10 seconds flat

To drive traffic to the fake site, the scammers bought ads on Google that were displayed when people searched for things involving browsers. The ads looked benign enough. As the images below show, the domain shown for one ad was mckelveytees.com, a site that sells apparel for professionals.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The privacy battle Apple isn’t fighting

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/31/2021 - 7:00am
The privacy battle Apple isn’t fighting

Enlarge (credit: Elena Lacey, Getty Images)

For at least a decade, privacy advocates dreamed of a universal, legally enforceable “do not track” setting. Now, at least in the most populous state in the US, that dream has become a reality. So why isn’t Apple—a company that increasingly uses privacy as a selling point—helping its customers take advantage of it?

When California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in 2018, the law came with a large asterisk. In theory, the CCPA gives California residents the right to tell websites not to sell their personal data. In practice, exercising that right means clicking through an interminable number of privacy policies and cookie notices, one by one, on every site you visit. Only a masochist or a die-hard privacy enthusiast would go to the trouble of clicking through to the cookie settings every time they’re looking up a menu or buying a vacuum. Privacy will remain, for most people, a right that exists only on paper until there’s a simple one-click way to opt out of tracking across the whole Internet.

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H.G. Wells’ “World Brain” is now here—what have we learned since?

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/31/2021 - 5:05am
Stock photo of a shocked child holding a model human brain.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Between November 1936 and November 1937, H.G. Wells gave a series of lectures in Great Britain, France, and the US about the world's impending problems and how to solve them. The lectures were first published under the title World Brain in 1938, and they are sweeping in scope. Wells argued for rearranging both education and the distribution of knowledge and thought we should probably get rid of nationalism while we're at it.

MIT Press has just issued a compendium of these lectures, along with related material Wells presented as magazine articles and radio addresses. The collection also includes a foreword by the science fiction writer Bruce Sterling and an introduction by Joseph Reagle, an associate professor of communication studies at Northeastern who writes and teaches about popular culture , digital communication, and online communities.

Unequal information

Humanity had all of the information necessary to live together in peace and harmony, Wells told his audiences; the trouble was that this information existed in a disorganized, dispersed state, and most people didn't have access to it. They certainly didn't have access to the most up-to-date information, and with the rapid pace of technological advancement in the early 20th century—leading to cars, planes, and especially radio—information needed updating constantly.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Electric cars have much lower life cycle emissions, new study confirms

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/31/2021 - 4:00am
An

Enlarge / If we're serious about decarbonizing, the internal combustion engine has to go by 2030-2035, according to a new study. (credit: Reinhard Krull/EyeEm/Getty Images)

If you listen to electric vehicle naysayers, switching to EVs is pointless because even if the cars are vastly more efficient than ones that use internal combustion engines—and they are—that doesn't take into account the amount of carbon required to build and then scrap them. Well, rest easy because it's not true. Today in the US market, a medium-sized battery EV already has 60–68 percent lower lifetime carbon emissions than a comparable car with an internal combustion engine. And the gap is only going to increase as we use more renewable electricity.

That finding comes from a white paper (pdf) published by Georg Bieker at the International Council on Clean Transportation. The comprehensive study compares the lifetime carbon emissions, both today and in 2030, of midsized vehicles in Europe, the US, China, and India, across a wide range of powertrain types, including gasoline, diesel, hybrid EVs (HEVs), plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs), battery EVs (BEVs), and fuel cell EVs (FCEVs). (The ICCT is the same organization that funded the research into VW Group's diesel emissions.)

The study takes into account the carbon emissions that result from the various fuels (fossil fuels, biofuels, electricity, hydrogen, and e-fuels), as well as the emissions that result from manufacturing and then recycling or disposing of vehicles and their various components. Bieker has also factored in real-world fuel or energy consumption—something that is especially important when it comes to PHEVs, according to the report. Finally, the study accounts for the fact that energy production should become less carbon-intensive over time, based on stated government objectives.

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3G-only Kindles begin their long, slow death this year

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/30/2021 - 3:02pm
2007-era Kindles had a pretty good fourteen-year run—but we imagine there are some 2016-era Kindle Oasis (8th-gen) owners feeling pretty salty about their free 3G broadband going away right now.

Enlarge / 2007-era Kindles had a pretty good fourteen-year run—but we imagine there are some 2016-era Kindle Oasis (8th-gen) owners feeling pretty salty about their free 3G broadband going away right now. (credit: Mel Melcon via Getty Images / NineFiveSeven / Jim Salter)

This Wednesday, Amazon sent a notification email to customers who bought early Kindle e-readers. First- and second-generation Kindle and Kindle DX devices had no Wi-Fi support, relying solely on free 3G connectivity to reach Amazon—which is a real problem for those devices, since US mobile network operators will begin reclaiming 2G and 3G frequency bands for use with 4G and 5G this year.

Owners of first- and second-generation Kindles should still be able to use the "Manage Your Content and Devices" page on Amazon to transfer books to Internet-orphaned Kindles via USB cable, but that's hardly convenient compared to the devices' original promise of freedom from wires and Wi-Fi passwords alike.

First-gen Kindle owners can get a free 10th-gen Kindle Oasis and cover, and second-gen Kindle and Kindle DX owners are eligible for $70 off a new Kindle Paperwhite or Kindle Oasis, plus $25 in e-book credits—but you'll need to use a promo code from the email Amazon sent in order to qualify. Without the promo code, Amazon only offers first-generation Kindle owners a $5.00 Amazon gift card.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Jeff Bezos loses attempt to block the Moon-landing contract NASA gave to SpaceX

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/30/2021 - 2:18pm
Jeff Bezos holding aviation glasses up to his face.

Enlarge / Jeff Bezos holds aviation glasses that belonged to Amelia Earhart at a press conference about his flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard on July 20, 2021, in Van Horn, Texas. (credit: Getty Images | Joe Raedle)

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) today rejected Blue Origin's attempt to block the lunar-landing contract that NASA awarded to SpaceX. The GAO also rejected a similar protest filed by Dynetics.

NASA in April 2020 selected SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics to design and build human landing systems. But in April 2021, NASA decided to go only with SpaceX and its Starship vehicle for the Artemis program, which is NASA's plan to return humans to the Moon by 2024.

"The cost of SpaceX's bid was about half that of Dynetics, and one-fourth the amount received by Blue Origin," as our coverage at the time said. While budget was apparently the biggest factor, NASA also "praised the [SpaceX] vehicle's innovative design and future-looking technology that might also one day be used on Mars" and cited Starship advantages including "a spacious cabin for astronauts, two airlocks, and ample payload capability to bring large numbers of experiments to the Moon and return samples to Earth."

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Evolutionary chaos as butterflies, wasps, and viruses have a three-way war

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/30/2021 - 11:39am
Image of a moth

Enlarge (credit: iStock / Getty Images)

We're currently watching—often in horror—what happens as a virus and its hosts engage in an evolutionary arms race. Measures to limit infectivity and enhance immunity are selecting for viral strains that spread more readily and avoid at least some of the immune response. All of that is easily explained through evolutionary theory and has been modeled mathematically.

But not all evolutionary interactions are so neat and binary. Thursday's edition of Science included a description of a three-way fight between butterflies, the wasps that parasitize them, and the viruses that can infect both species. To call the interactions that have ensued "complicated" is a significant understatement.

Meet the combatants

One of the groups involved is the Lepidoptera, the butterflies and moths. They are seemingly the victims in this story because, like any other species, they can be infected by viruses. Many of these viral infections can be fatal, although some kill the animal quickly, and others take their time. Since they often strike during the larval/caterpillar stages, the viruses need other hosts to transfer the viruses to other victims.

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Scarlett Johansson sues Disney, says Disney+ release of Black Widow broke contract

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/30/2021 - 11:20am
A billboard promoting the movie Black Widow with a giant picture of Scarlett Johansson.

Enlarge / A billboard above the El Capitan Entertainment Centre promoting Marvel Studios' Black Widow on June 22, 2021, in Hollywood, California. (credit: Getty Images | AaronP/Bauer-Griffin)

Scarlett Johansson sued the Walt Disney Company yesterday, alleging that it breached her contract by releasing Black Widow on Disney+ the same day it was released in theaters.

The simultaneous release allowed Disney to pay Johansson less money because she and the Disney-owned Marvel agreed that her compensation for Black Widow "would be based largely on 'box office' receipts generated by the picture," according to Johansson's complaint filed in Los Angeles County's Superior Court for the State of California. This was a contract violation because Johansson secured a promise from Marvel that the movie would initially be released in theaters only, the lawsuit said:

To maximize these receipts, and thereby protect her financial interests, Ms. Johansson extracted a promise from Marvel that the release of the picture would be a "theatrical release." As Ms. Johansson, Disney, Marvel, and most everyone else in Hollywood knows, a "theatrical release" is a release that is exclusive to movie theaters. Disney was well aware of this promise, but nonetheless directed Marvel to violate its pledge and instead release the picture on the Disney+ streaming service the very same day it was released in movie theaters.

The reasons for this were twofold. First, Disney wanted to lure the picture's audience away from movie theaters and towards its owned streaming service, where it could keep the revenues for itself while simultaneously growing the Disney+ subscriber base, a proven way to boost Disney's stock price. Second, Disney wanted to substantially devalue Ms. Johansson's agreement and thereby enrich itself. In the months leading up to this lawsuit, Ms. Johansson gave Disney and Marvel every opportunity to right their wrong and make good on Marvel's promise. Unlike numerous other movie studios, however—including Warner Brothers who, on information and belief, settled with its talent on films such as Wonder Woman after it released those films "day-and-date" to its streaming service HBO Max last year—Disney and Marvel largely ignored Ms. Johansson, essentially forcing her to file this action.

The lawsuit accuses Disney of intentional interference with contractual relations and inducing breach of contract, alleging that the contract breach "was the direct result of Disney directing Marvel to ignore Ms. Johansson's agreement and/or overruling Marvel's wishes to comply with it." Johansson demanded a jury trial and asked the court for monetary and punitive damages in amounts to be proven at trial.

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Huawei’s latest flagship phone has HarmonyOS, a Qualcomm SoC, and no 5G

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/30/2021 - 10:35am

Despite facing down a global chip shortage, a US export ban, and plummeting market share, Huawei is still plowing ahead and announcing its next flagship smartphone, the Huawei P50 Pro. The phone, which was teased back in June, is the company's first smartphone launching with HarmonyOS, Huawei's in-house operating system (though it's just a fork of Android).

Huawei is weathering several storms as best it can, but these storms are leading to a lot of wild product decisions with the P50 Pro. Huawei devices are usually based on the company's in-house "Kirin" SoCs, made by subsidiary HiSilicon. While the initial versions of the phones will use the 5 nm Kirin 9000 SoC, once the supply on those runs out, Huawei says it will switch to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC. But wait—didn't the US Government ban companies from exporting US-origin goods to Huawei?

It did, but Qualcomm was granted a license to sell chips to Huawei back in November 2020.

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Valve issues scathing reply over the facts behind a Steam antitrust case

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/30/2021 - 9:19am
Valve issues scathing reply over the facts behind a Steam antitrust case

Enlarge (credit: Getty / Aurich Lawson)

Valve has issued a scathing response to Wolfire's April lawsuit alleging anticompetitive monopoly practices on the Steam storefront. In that response, Valve argues that the suit should be dismissed because it "fails to allege the most basic elements of an antitrust case."

There’s no right to free Steam keys

Wolfire's case centers in part on the fact that Valve requires free Steam Keys generated by developers using Valve's platform to be sold on other platforms at prices no lower than those offered on Steam. But Valve argues multiple times in its filing that it has "no obligation to distribute Steam Keys, let alone to allow developers to use Steam Keys to undercut their Steam prices in other stores."

The free key system, Valve says, is intended as a way to "[give] developers a free way to sell (or give away) a reasonable number of copies of their Steam-enabled games." With that in mind, restrictions on off-Steam pricing for those keys "prevents developers from free-riding on Valve’s investment in Steam." The pricing and quantity guidelines "prevent developers from eroding large quantities of sales on Steam, which Valve bears 100% of the expense of creating and maintaining, yet provides to users for free."

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This 900-person delta cluster in Mass. has CDC freaked out—74% are vaccinated [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/30/2021 - 8:44am
Foot traffic along Commercial Street in Provincetown, Mass., on July 20, 2021.  Provincetown officials have issued a new mask-wearing advisory for indoors, regardless of vaccination status, on the latest data showing that Provincetown COVID cases are increasing.

Enlarge / Foot traffic along Commercial Street in Provincetown, Mass., on July 20, 2021. Provincetown officials have issued a new mask-wearing advisory for indoors, regardless of vaccination status, on the latest data showing that Provincetown COVID cases are increasing. (credit: Getty | Boston Globe)

An analysis of a COVID-19 cluster of around 900 people in Massachusetts—74 percent of whom are vaccinated—is among the alarming data that spurred the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reverse course on masks this week.

According to an internal CDC document first obtained by The Washington Post Thursday evening, data on the Provincetown, Massachusetts, cluster showed that vaccinated people carried surprisingly high levels of the delta coronavirus in their noses and throats. In a study of a subset of people in the cluster, published at 1pm ET Friday by the CDC, Massachusetts health officials reported that fully vaccinated infected people appeared to have similar viral loads as unvaccinated infected people. More importantly, vaccinated people were found to be spreading the dangerous virus variant to other vaccinated people.

The CDC-published study included 469 cases from the cluster, 346 of which were in fully vaccinated people. Of those breakthrough infections, 79 percent had symptoms, with cough, headache, sore throat, myalgia, and fever being the most common symptoms. There were five hospitalizations in the subset: one in an unvaccinated person with underlying medical conditions and four in fully vaccinated people, two of whom had underlying medical conditions. No deaths from cases linked to the cluster have been reported to date.

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America’s favorite truck goes hybrid: The Ford F-150, reviewed

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/30/2021 - 7:49am

 

Ford’s F-series pickup trucks have been the best-selling vehicles in the United States for what seems like forever, so there's probably a powerful temptation not to mess with something that has worked so well. But the times, they are a-changin’, and so must pickup trucks.

Ford revealed its new ideas in the form of the all-electric 2022 F-150 Lightning this past spring, but there’s another new option for those who want to go green(er) but aren’t willing to give up burning hydrocarbons to get around: the F-150 PowerBoost hybrid. While the hybrid is not a game-changer, it offers better mileage and the ability to use it as a 7.2 kW generator—even while the vehicle is in motion.

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Software downloaded 30,000 times from PyPI ransacked developers’ machines

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/30/2021 - 4:54am
Software downloaded 30,000 times from PyPI ransacked developers’ machines

Enlarge

Open source packages downloaded an estimated 30,000 times from the PyPI open source repository contained malicious code that surreptitiously stole credit card data and login credentials and injected malicious code on infected machines, researchers said on Thursday.

In a post, researchers Andrey Polkovnichenko, Omer Kaspi, and Shachar Menashe of devops software vendor JFrog said they recently found eight packages in PyPI that carried out a range of malicious activity. Based on searches on https://pepy.tech, a site that provides download stats for Python packages, the researchers estimate the malicious packages were downloaded about 30,000 times.

Systemic threat

The discovery is the latest in a long line of attacks in recent years that abuse the receptivity of open source repositories, which millions of software developers rely on daily. Despite their crucial role, repositories often lack robust security and vetting controls, a weakness that has the potential to cause serious supply chain attacks when developers unknowingly infect themselves or fold malicious code into the software they publish.

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New bank-fraud malware called Vultur infects thousands of devices

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/30/2021 - 4:30am
New bank-fraud malware called Vultur infects thousands of devices

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Recently detected Android malware, some spread through the Google Play Store, uses a novel way to supercharge the harvesting of login credentials from more than 100 banking and cryptocurrency applications.

The malware, which researchers from Amsterdam-based security firm ThreatFabric are calling Vultur, is among the first Android threats to record a device screen whenever one of the targeted apps is opened. Vultur uses a real implementation of the VNC screen-sharing application to mirror the screen of the infected device to an attacker-controlled server, researchers with ThreatFabric said.

(credit: ThreatFabric)

(credit: ThreatFabric)

The next level

The typical modus operandi for Android-based bank-fraud malware is to superimpose a window on top of the login screen presented by a targeted app. The “overlay,” as such windows are usually called, appears identical to the user interface of the banking app, giving victims the impression they’re entering their credentials into a trusted piece of software. Attackers then harvest the credentials, enter them into the app running on a different device, and withdraw money.

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Rocket Report: Ariane V returns after long layoff, Rocket Lab’s tough culture

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/30/2021 - 4:00am
Artist's conception of cutting-edge rockets.

Enlarge / China's iSpace releases renderings of a 1-, 2-, and 3-core Hyperbola-3 rocket. (credit: iSpace/Andrew Jones/Twitter)

Welcome to Edition 4.09 of the Rocket Report! I was certainly looking forward to the second launch of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft on Friday, and the Atlas V rocket was ready to go. Alas, serious problems with Russia's new space station module, Nauka, delayed the launch until next Tuesday.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

New Zealand publication investigates Rocket Lab work culture. Former employees of launch company Rocket Lab claim that behind its flashy public relations is a toxic culture of fear where people are pushed out of the business and punished for minor transgressions, BusinessDesk reports. The article asserts that founder Peter Beck is an inspirational leader but that his management style is more appropriate for a very small startup rather than a maturing aerospace company. Although Rocket Lab is based it the US, it operates a rocket assembly and launch site in New Zealand.

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Russian module suddenly fires thrusters after docking with space station

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/29/2021 - 4:37pm
A silver-grey module moves through the terrifying blackness of outer space.

Enlarge / Russian "Nauka" module approaches the International Space Station. (credit: Roscosmos)

Flight controllers at NASA and Roscosmos averted a disaster on Thursday after a large Russian module docked with the International Space Station and began to "inadvertently" fire its thrusters.

The Russian "Nauka" module linked to the space station at 8:30 am CT (13:30 UTC), local time in Houston, where NASA's Mission Control is based. After that, Russian cosmonauts aboard the station began preparing to open the hatches leading to Nauka, but at 11:34 am Houston time, Nauka unexpectedly started to fire its movement thrusters.

Within minutes, the space station began to lose attitude control. This was a problem for several reasons. First of all, the station requires a certain attitude to maintain signal with geostationary satellites and talk to Mission Control on the ground. Also, solar arrays are positioned to collect power based upon this predetermined attitude.

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This 3D-printed soft robotic hand beat the first level of Super Mario Bros.

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/29/2021 - 4:08pm

A team led by University of Maryland mechanical engineering Professor Ryan Sochol has created a soft robotic hand agile enough to manipulate a game controller.

A team of engineers at the University of Maryland has built a three-fingered soft robotic hand that is sufficiently agile to be able to manipulate the buttons and directional pad on a Nintendo controller—even managing to beat the first level of Super Mario Bros. as proof of concept, according to a recent paper published in the journal Science Advances. The same team also built two soft robotic turtles (the terrapin turtle is UMD's official mascot) using the same multimaterial 3D-printing process that produced the robotic hand.

We traditionally think of robots as being manufactured out of hard, rigid materials, but the subfield of soft robotics takes a different approach. It seeks to build robotic devices out of more flexible materials that mimic the properties of those found in living animals. There are huge advantages to be gained by making the entire body of a robot out of soft materials, such as being flexible enough to squeeze through tight spaces to hunt for survivors after a disaster. Soft robots also hold strong potential as prosthetics or biomedical devices. Even rigid robots rely on some soft components, such as foot pads that serve as shock absorbers or flexible springs to store and release energy.

Harvard researchers built an octopus-inspired soft robot in 2016 that was constructed entirely out of flexible materials. But soft robots are more difficult to control precisely because they are so flexible. In the case of the "octobot," the researchers replaced the rigid electronic circuits with microfluidic circuits. Such circuits involve regulating the flow of water (hydraulics) or air (pneumatics), rather than electricity, through the circuit's microchannels, enabling the robot to bend and move.

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Facebook’s next hardware product will be “smart” Ray-Ban glasses

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/29/2021 - 3:39pm
A fashion influencer smiles while wearing a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Enlarge / Don't get too excited about how well these Ray-Bans go with Gitta Banko's outfit—we don't know what Facebook's new smart glasses will look like, only that they're made in partnership with the brand and its parent company. (credit: Streetstyleshooters via Getty Images)

In an earnings conference call on Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors that the company's next hardware launch will be "smart glasses" made in partnership with classic sunglasses vendor Ray-Ban.

Zuckerberg segued into the Ray-Ban announcement following a lengthy discussion of Facebook's plans for Oculus Quest, its all-in-one virtual reality (VR) platform. Zuckerberg says that social media is the real "killer app" for VR, backing that up with data from Oculus Quest: "The most popular apps on Quest are social, which fits our original thesis [that] virtual reality will be a social platform."

Zuckerberg intends the as yet unnamed smart glasses to be a stepping stone, not an end goal. He remained cagey about their actual purpose, saying only that the glasses "have their iconic form factor, and [let] you do some pretty neat things," with no concrete details about what those "neat things" might be.

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Second lab worker with deadly prion disease prompts research pause in France

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/29/2021 - 3:16pm
An arm points at a video projection of gross pink goo.

Enlarge / A pathologist examines brain tissue of a diseased deer. The white circular shapes are the sponge-like holes found with prion-related diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). (credit: Getty | Star Tribune)

Five public research institutions in France announced a three-month moratorium on prion research this week, following a newly identified case of prion disease in a retired lab worker.

If the case is found to be linked to a laboratory exposure, it would be the second such case identified in France. In 2019, another lab worker in the country died of a prion disease at the age of 33. Her death came around nine years after she accidentally jabbed herself in the thumb with forceps used to handle frozen slices of humanized mouse brains infected with prions.

Prions and disease

Prions are misfolded, misshapen forms of normal proteins, called prion proteins, that are commonly found in human and other animal cells. What prion proteins do normally is still unclear, but they're readily found in the human brain. When a misfolded prion enters the mix, it can corrupt the normal prion proteins around them, prompting them to misfold as well, clump together, and corrupt others. As the corruption ripples through the brain, it leads to brain tissue damage, eventually causing little holes to form. This gives the brain a sponge-like appearance and is the reason prion diseases are also called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

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