ArsTechnica

  • 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.
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Updated: 56 min 13 sec ago

Study confirms superior sound of a Stradivari is due to the varnish

2 hours 26 min ago
Violin against a red background.

Enlarge / A 1729 Stradivari known as the "Solomon, Ex-Lambert" on display at Christie's in New York in March 2007. (credit: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Along with Andrea Amati and Andrea Guarneri, Antonio Stradivari dominated the so-called Golden Age of Violins (roughly 1660 to 1750), and the instruments they crafted remain the gold standard today in terms of acoustic quality. World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma has long favored a Stradivarius instrument, as does violinist Joshua Bell. But scientists have been arguing for years about precisely why these instruments have such superior sound. A recent paper published in the journal Angewandte Chemie confirms a theory dating back to 2006: the secret lies in the chemicals used to soak the wood, most notably borax, zinc, copper, alum, and lime water.

I've written extensively about this topic in the past. The (perceived) unique sound can't just be due to the instrument's geometry, although Stradivari's geometrical approach did give us the violin's signature shape. One hypothesis is that Stradivari may have used Alpine spruce that grew during a period of uncommonly cold weather, which caused the annual growth rings to be closer together, making the wood abnormally dense. Another prevailing theory has to do with the varnish: namely, that Stradivari used an ingenious cocktail of honey, egg whites, and gum arabic from sub-Saharan trees—or perhaps salts or other chemicals.

Then again, the difference may be all in our heads. A player's instrument preference is highly subjective, and there's some evidence of so-called "psychoacoustics" at play: that is, we've become so awed by the name Stradivarius that it influences how we evaluate or respond to the sound of one of Stradivari's instruments.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Billionaire Sacklers’ immunity threatened as DOJ moves to block opioid deal

3 hours 7 min ago
Protestors hold up a banner while surrounded by empty prescription bottles.

Enlarge / PURDUE PHARMA, STAMFORD, Conn. - 2019/09/12: Members of P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) and Truth Pharm staged a protest outside Purdue Pharma headquarters over the recent, controversial opioid settlement. (credit: Getty | Erik McGregor)

The Department of Justice is fighting to strip the billionaire Sackler family of the sweeping legal immunity granted as part of a controversial $4.5 billion opioid settlement.

The department filed a motion late Wednesday to block the implementation of the settlement until appeals can be heard in a higher court. Attorneys for the department argued that some aspects of the deal could go into effect quickly, complicating the appeal, according to NPR. Along with the DOJ, Connecticut, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Washington state are also preparing to fight the settlement.

The Justice Department also requested an expedited hearing within the next two weeks.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple sunsets the 256GB iPhone SE

3 hours 19 min ago

Apple has quietly discontinued the largest storage configuration of the iPhone SE. Previously, the SE was available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB variants. But the 256GB model is no longer available in Apple's online store.

But don't take this to mean that the iPhone SE is going anywhere. In fact, analysts and journalists have published multiple similar reports claiming that the iPhone SE will get an upgrade early next year.

The reports say that the 2022 iPhone SE will feature the Apple's A15 chip—the same one that's inside the newly announced iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPad mini. The phone would also feature 5G and have Qualcomm's X60 modem, according to Nikkei.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Nintendo’s “thing after the Switch”: How an overheard convo sent me reeling

3 hours 41 min ago
Today's very brief hint of the gaming future comes wrapped in a Nintendo bow.

Enlarge / Today's very brief hint of the gaming future comes wrapped in a Nintendo bow. (credit: Aurich Lawson)

SEATTLE—It's not every day I hear about unannounced Nintendo products over guac.

Thanks to a chance encounter last month, I've been sitting on one of the weirder scoops in my 25-year writing career—one that will simultaneously set many gamer tongues wagging and bore other gamers to death. It's about Nintendo, and I should start by making abundantly clear that I didn't get the information double-checked or verified by anyone who has particular access or insight into the gaming company's plans (neither did I ask my uncle who—promise, swear—works as Mario's personal driver).

But I have been turning over this minuscule scrap of information in my mind ever since. What I heard is both simultaneously a resounding "duh" for a company like Nintendo and yet also possibly illuminating about the industry giant's near-future plans. So I invite you to sit with me, grab a chip, and pick at this bowl of game-industry-news guacamole.

Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Battlefield 2042 joins recent game-delay frenzy, moves to November

3 hours 57 min ago
Promotional image from delayed video game.

Enlarge / This looks fun. (credit: EA)

Battlefield 2042 has been delayed from its initial October 22 release date, though it will still launch this year, EA announced today. The multiplayer-only shooter will now hit stores on November 19, the publisher said in a statement.

Citing the complications of developing games in a work-from-home environment during a global pandemic—by now a familiar challenge for the countless game makers that have had to delay other high-profile 2021 games—DICE assured fans that the team is working on finishing touches rather than dealing with any kind of development trouble. The developer also reiterated that there would be updates later this month regarding 2042's open beta. In other words, this is pandemic business as usual.

After Battlefield 2042's reveal during EA's June E3 news blitz, the publisher announced that the game will feature three modes, none of which are battle royale-related. "All-Out Warfare," the traditional BF deathmatch mode, is finally upgrading to 128 players on current-gen consoles and PC. "Battlefield Portal" is a mashup game that lets players customize matches with elements of Battlefield 1942, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3 inside 2042 maps. "Hazard Zone" is an alleged squad-based mode that EA has thus far been mum on. Today's announcement didn't specify whether all three modes would launch with the game.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Man once called world’s “largest facilitator of child porn” sentenced to 27 years

4 hours 18 min ago
Eric Eoin Marques led away from the High Court in Dublin in August 2013 after US authorities formally requested his extradition.

Enlarge / Eric Eoin Marques led away from the High Court in Dublin in August 2013 after US authorities formally requested his extradition. (credit: Getty Images | Niall Carson | PA Images )

A man who operated a dark web service that hosted millions of child-sexual-abuse images was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison for conspiracy to advertise child pornography, the US Department of Justice announced today. Eric Eoin Marques, a 36-year-old dual national of the US and Ireland, was also sentenced to "a lifetime of supervised release" after his prison time is over.

Marques will get credit for time served from July 2013 to the present, a sentencing document says. He was also ordered to forfeit over $154,000.

During a 2013 bail hearing in Dublin, FBI Special Agent Brooke Donahue "agreed that he had described Marques as 'the largest facilitator of child porn on the planet' and added 'that remains true to this day,'" according to an Irish Examiner article in September 2013. An Irish court record provides a slightly different wording of Donahue's quote, describing Marques as "the largest facilitator of child pornography websites on the planet." Today's DOJ announcement said that "Marques was one of the largest facilitators of child pornography in the world."

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Office 2021 will be available for non-Microsoft 365 subscribers on October 5

7 hours 30 min ago
Office 2021 will be available for non-Microsoft 365 subscribers on October 5

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

New versions of Microsoft Office aren't as big a deal as they used to be, thanks to the continuously updated (and continuously paid-for) versions of the apps that come with a Microsoft 365 subscription. But for everyone else, there's still Office 2021, an upgrade to Office 2019 that's coming to both Windows and macOS on October 5, Microsoft announced today. Office 2021 will add the same features as the Office Long-Term Servicing Channel (or LTSC—catchy!) release, which is available today.

Compared to Office 2019, the last "perpetual" version of Office, the new version includes Dark Mode support, support for version 1.3 of the OpenDocument format, new Excel functions and formulas, improved slide show recording for PowerPoint, and various user-interface tweaks and enhancements. Microsoft lists most of the new features here.

The company plans to offer five years of "Mainstream Support" for Office 2021 without any extended support beyond that. The end date for Office 2021 support is in October of 2026, just a year after support ends for the Windows versions of Office 2016 and Office 2019.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Lost Judgment impressions: 15 wild hours in Yokohama

7 hours 39 min ago


At a glance, Lost Judgment may seem intimidating to anyone who hasn't graduated from Sega's school of hard Yakuza knocks. To start, it’s a spinoff of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s long-running crime series, which is saddled with a truckload of backstory. On top of that, it’s a direct follow-up to 2019’s Judgment, the first game from that spinoff. Finally, the overwhelming, unadulterated immersion into modern Japan that Yakuza games are known for doesn’t really feel like anything else in video games.

With these eccentricities in mind, anyone not already intimately familiar with the broader Yakuza universe may feel too lost to know where to begin here, if they want to bother trying at all. Yet after spending roughly 15 hours over the past week playing through the first four chapters of this game, I can say Lost Judgment is absolutely worth your time, with a barrier to entry much lower than you’d expect. Stacked up against any recent high-production action games, it's unlike anything else you'll play this year.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Hospital staff must swear off Tylenol, Tums to get religious vaccine exemption

8 hours 15 min ago
Hospital staff must swear off Tylenol, Tums to get religious vaccine exemption

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Jeff Greenberg)

A hospital system in Arkansas is making it a bit more difficult for staff to receive a religious exemption from its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The hospital is now requiring staff to also swear off extremely common medicines, such as Tylenol, Tums, and even Preparation H, to get the exemption.

The move was prompted when Conway Regional Health System noted an unusual uptick in vaccine exemption requests that cited the use of fetal cell lines in the development and testing of the vaccines.

"This was significantly disproportionate to what we've seen with the influenza vaccine," Matt Troup, president and CEO of Conway Regional Health System, told Becker's Hospital Review in an interview Wednesday.

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Alphabet’s laser-Internet system has sent 700TB of data with 99.9% uptime

8 hours 34 min ago

Google's parent company, Alphabet, is still experimenting with hooking up remote towns to the Internet via frickin' laser beams. Today, Alphabet's moonshot "X Lab" shared an update on Project Taara, its experimental point-to-point optical communication system, often described as "fiber optics without the fiber." The company built a working installation in Africa and has been blasting a 20Gbps link about 5 km across the Congo River to a town of millions of people, lowering the cost of Internet access for them.

The Taara laser beam is bridging the gap between Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which are on opposite sides of the Congo River. Brazzaville has decent Internet, but because nobody wanted to run a fiber line through the world's deepest and second-fastest river, Kinshasa uses a fiber line that runs 400 km around the river, and the Internet is five times more expensive there. Alphabet's 20Gbps commercial link has been up and running for 20 days now, and the company says it has served nearly 700TB of data in that time, with 99.9 percent uptime.

Taara was born out of the "Loon" Internet balloon project launched in 2017. Originally, Google was building flying cell towers to beam down the Internet from the sky (over RF), but for balloon-to-balloon backhaul, the company was planning communications via laser beam. Space X just started doing something similar by equipping its Starlink satellites with space lasers for optical intra-satellite communication. One benefit of Sky- and space-based laser communication is that not much can interfere with a point-to-point optical beam. Ground-based lasers have more interference to consider, since they have to deal with nearly everything: rain, fog, birds, and once, according to Alphabet's blog post, "a curious monkey."

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Locast’s free TV service ordered to shut down permanently after copyright loss

8 hours 57 min ago
An old television with an antenna displaying static.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Cavan Images)

Locast was ordered to shut down its online TV service forever in a permanent injunction issued yesterday by a federal judge. The order came two weeks after the judge gave major broadcast networks a big victory in their copyright case against Locast, a nonprofit organization that provided online access to broadcast TV stations.

Locast will have to win on appeal in order to stream broadcast channels again. Locast already suspended operations after the September 1 ruling that said it does not qualify for a copyright-law exemption available to nonprofits, so the permanent injunction doesn't change the status quo.

US District Judge Louis Stanton cited a December 2019 agreement between Locast and the networks that limited the scope of the litigation and said a permanent injunction should be entered if the court determines that Locast does not qualify for the copyright-law exemption. The deal did not prohibit Locast "from applying for a stay of the permanent injunction pending appeal, nor to bar the broadcasters from opposing any such stay," the agreement said.

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Near-death of anti-vaccine cardinal is an “irony of life,” says Pope Francis

9 hours 8 min ago
Pope Francis speaking to journalists as he returned to the Vatican on September 15, 2021.

Enlarge / Pope Francis speaking to journalists as he returned to the Vatican on September 15, 2021. (credit: Vatican)

Pope Francis, well-known for his freewheeling conversations with journalists aboard the papal plane, yesterday called out COVID-19 vaccine resistance within church ranks as he flew home from Hungary and Slovakia. And he went straight to the top.

"Even in the College of Cardinals, there are a few 'deniers' ['negazionisti'] and one of them, poor man, is hospitalized with the virus," Francis told journalists on the flight, according to a translation of his Italian remarks.

Then he added, "Mah, ironia della vita…"

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Self-sustaining solar house on wheels wants to soak up the Sun

9 hours 20 min ago
The Stella Vita hits the road.

Enlarge / The Stella Vita hits the road. (credit: Solar Team Eindhoven)

The creators of a new “self-sustaining house on wheels” are hoping their strange-looking project will help spark interest in solar vehicles. The vehicle, called the Stella Vita, was made by Eindhoven University of Technology students.

Solar Team Eindhoven's 22 members previously created a smaller solar-powered family car called the Stella Lux. According to Tijn Ter Horst, a member of the team and a mechanical engineering student at the university, the Stella Lux was energy-positive. “She could power other electric vehicles because she had so much energy left,” Ter Horst told Ars.

After producing the Stella Lux, the team began brainstorming future projects and came up with the idea of a home-like vehicle powered entirely by the Sun. In March, the students started constructing a tear-shaped solar mobile home, and they recently completed the project.

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Cherry-picking data was routine practice at Theranos, former lab worker says

10 hours 37 min ago
Elizabeth Holmes, founder and former CEO of blood-testing and life sciences company Theranos, leaves the courthouse with her husband Billy Evans after the first day of her fraud trial in San Jose, California, on September 8, 2021.

Enlarge / Elizabeth Holmes, founder and former CEO of blood-testing and life sciences company Theranos, leaves the courthouse with her husband Billy Evans after the first day of her fraud trial in San Jose, California, on September 8, 2021. (credit: Nick Otto / AFP)

At Theranos, lab techs would regularly omit two “outlier” data points from analysis in order to get the company's machines to pass quality checks, whistleblower Erika Cheung told jurors yesterday at the trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. 

The process of removing outliers from an analysis isn’t necessarily unusual. But Theranos’ own lab manual did not say how outliers should be identified, so to get the company’s proprietary blood-testing devices to pass quality checks, employees could decide which results to keep, essentially “cherry-picking” data, Cheung said. 

“It was very concerning in a research context because once that translates to a patient setting, it’s giving you a good indication that the system isn’t working reliably enough to feel confident and comfortable in running patient samples,” she said.

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NASA awards five contracts for lunar landers to follow SpaceX demonstration

12 hours 3 min ago
A Lockheed Martin concept for a lunar lander.

Enlarge / A Lockheed Martin concept for a lunar lander. (credit: Lockheed Martin)

NASA is moving ahead with plans to bring competition into the development of landers for its Artemis Moon program. This week, the space agency said it had selected five US companies to conduct additional work toward refining lunar lander concepts to take astronauts down to the Moon's surface later this decade.

The combined value of the fixed-price awards is $146 million, and the work is to be completed during the next 15 months. The winning companies are:

  • Blue Origin Federation of Kent, Washington, $25.6 million
  • Dynetics of Huntsville, Alabama, $40.8 million
  • Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado, $35.2 million
  • Northrop Grumman of Dulles, Virginia, $34.8 million
  • SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, $9.4 million

According to NASA, each of these companies will further develop lander design concepts and evaluate the landers' performance, design, mission assurance requirements, and more. The companies will also mitigate lunar lander risks by conducting critical component tests and advancing the maturity of key technologies.

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Lucid gets its official EPA range ratings, and they’re astounding

13 hours 26 min ago
A Lucid Air prototype parked in front of some palm trees

Enlarge / The Lucid Air may look the same as the early prototype we saw in 2017, but a lot has changed. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

When it comes to bench-racing battery-electric vehicles, all is well and good when comparing standing-start acceleration times. But the only number anyone really cares about is how far a vehicle can go on a single charge. Rightly or wrongly, US car buyers have decided that the long charging times for a BEV (relative to refueling with liquid hydrocarbons) must be offset with enormous range. And when it comes to a long-legged BEV, there's a new king of the hill.

On Thursday, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued its official range rating for the Lucid Air. The Air was probably going to do well here—Lucid-commissioned independent testing determined that a combination of a very low drag coefficient and a hefty 113 kWh battery pack would deliver over 517 miles (832 km) of range. But the EPA says Lucid has done even more than that: the Air Dream Edition has been rated at 520 miles (837 km) on a single charge.

"Crucially, this landmark has been achieved by Lucid's world-leading in-house EV technology, not by simply installing an oversize battery pack,” said Peter Rawlinson, CEO and CTO of Lucid Group. "Our race-proven 900V battery and BMS technology, our miniaturized drive units, coupled with our Wunderbox technology endow Lucid Air with ultra-high efficiency, enabling it to travel more miles from less battery energy."

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US hospitals buckling under delta surge: 25% of ICUs are over 95% full

Wed, 09/15/2021 - 4:00pm
Masked people stand in front of a tent amidst traffic cones.

Enlarge / A woman arrives at a treatment tent outside the emergency department at Palm Bay Hospital. (credit: Getty | SOPA images)

The current surge of COVID-19 cases driven by the hypertransmissible delta variant is straining hospitals across the US, particularly in the South. Twenty-five percent of hospital intensive care units around the country are now above 95 percent full. That percentage is up from 20 percent in July and just 10 percent in June, according to data tracking by The New York Times.

The spike in critical care follows a surge in cases and hospitalizations. Average new daily cases in the country skyrocketed from around 12,000 a day in late June to 150,000 or so in mid-September. Hospitalizations have likewise risen, shooting up from an average of nearly 17,000 a day at the start of July to around 100,000 now. Though cases and hospitalizations are starting to plateau or decline slightly, they are still extremely high. Deaths, meanwhile, are increasing. In the past two weeks, deaths have increased 40 percent to the current average of nearly 1,900 per day.

Most of the cases and nearly all of the hospitalizations and deaths remain among the unvaccinated. Around 60,000 people in the US have died of COVID-19 since the start of July. With highly effective vaccines freely available, nearly all of the current deaths are preventable.

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Shocking Pixel 6 rumor lists Google SoC with two ARM X1 CPU cores

Wed, 09/15/2021 - 2:45pm

What in the world is going on?

Google is building the Pixel 6, and with it, the company is dumping Qualcomm and introducing its first in-house main SoC (with help from Samsung): the "Google Tensor SoC," aka "Whitechapel." Other than some talk about Google's special AI sauce, there's hasn't been much info about the core parts of Tensor like, say, the CPU. A reasonable expectation for a company building its first SoC is that it won't be too ambitious—we would expect Google to play within the guardrails set up by ARM, and after shipping a modest, cookie-cutter SoC, the company would learn from its first design and iterate. But a new report from XDA Developers' Mishaal Rahman claims that even with its first design, Google isn't afraid to blaze its own trail in SoC design.

Recall how ARM SoCs generally come with three tiers of CPU cores: a big CPU for bursty processing tasks like app-launching, medium cores for sustained performance, and small cores for background duty and low-power processing. Rahman says he has a source with a real-life Pixel 6 Pro and offers the following CPU specs: two 2.8GHz Cortex-X1 cores, two 2.25GHz Cortex-A76 cores, and four 1.8GHz Cortex-A55 cores.

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How the Le Mans hydrogen racer is shaping up

Wed, 09/15/2021 - 2:11pm
Futuristic race car with its gull wing doors open.

Enlarge / GreenGT's prototype hydrogen-powered racer. (credit: Dhananjay Khadilkar)

Around 400 meters from the buzz of the paddock during this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans stood a tent with two racing cars and a mobile fueling station. Every now and then, people wearing blue T-shirts bearing the logo of "Mission H24" would walk by the cars to attend meetings in a motor home sitting next to the tent.

One of those people was François Granet of the Franco-Swiss company GreenGT. He appeared particularly thrilled because, on the eve of the start of this year's race, the ACO (Automobile Club de l'Ouest), which organizes the 24 Hours of Le Mans, announced a new category of race cars at the Le Mans event for 2025: hydrogen-electric prototypes. The company's forerunners were stationed in that tent.

Creating a category

GreenGT is developing the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain for these cars, which will be designed around a chassis built by Oreca and Red Bull Technologies. "In partnership with ACO, we are helping define the sporting and technical regulations for the new category," Granet said.

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Crew Dragon has flown four more people—all private citizens—into space

Wed, 09/15/2021 - 2:09pm
The Crew Dragon spacecraft separates from the second stage of a Falcon 9 rocket.

Enlarge / The Crew Dragon spacecraft separates from the second stage of a Falcon 9 rocket. (credit: SpaceX)

8:30pm ET Wednesday update: As the Sun set over the Florida launch site on Wednesday evening, a Falcon 9 rocket soared into the darkening sky carrying four private citizens into space. About 12 minutes later the spacecraft separated from its second stage, and the Crew Dragon spacecraft began the first of nearly four dozen orbits around planet Earth. The Inspiration4 mission had a flawless start.

So opened the new age of space commercialization, with SpaceX now capable of flying orbital commercial human spaceflights, and Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin selling commercial suborbital flights. Before this summer, more than 95 percent of all people who went to space were professional astronauts. After this summer, 95 percent of all people who go to space will likely be private citizens.

Original post: There has been a minor kerfuffle in the space community over the last few weeks about what to call the Inspiration4 mission that is set to launch this evening from Florida on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

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