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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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: 58 min 50 sec ago

Vivarium’s claustrophobic horror hits a little too close to home right now

6 hours 40 min ago
Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg star in <em>Vivarium</em>.

Enlarge / Imogen Poots and Jesse Eisenberg star in Vivarium. (credit: Vertigo Releasing)

A house-hunting excursion turns into a nightmarish scenario for a young couple in Vivarium, a science fiction horror film directed by Lorcan Finnegan. The film has its strengths, but at a time when half the world is hunkered down in quarantine in the midst of a global pandemic, the claustrophobically surreal premise of two people trapped inside a cookie-cutter house against their will might hit a bit too close to home for comfort.

(Mostly mild spoilers; one major spoiler below the gallery)

Finnegan and screenwriter Garret Shanley made a short film in 2011 called Foxes, about a young couple trapped in an empty housing development. It was inspired, according to Finnegan, by Ireland's "ghost estates:" the remnants of that country's construction boom, brought down by the collapse of the housing market and global financial meltdown of 2008. Buyers found themselves trapped in homes they couldn't unload because their mortgages were underwater. He also found inspiration in a scene from the 1990 Nicolas Roeg film, The Witches (based on the Roald Dahl novel)—namely, a scene where a little girl is trapped inside a painting by a witch, eventually growing old and dying within it.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Teardown of Huawei flagship phone finds US parts despite blacklisting

8 hours 23 min ago
Promotional image of smartphone.

Enlarge / The Huawei P40 Pro. (credit: Huawei)

Huawei is still using components made by US companies in its newest flagship smartphone, a Financial Times teardown has found, despite the US all but blacklisting the Chinese telecoms equipment manufacturer.

On Thursday, Huawei launched its P40 smartphone—one of the first flagship devices the company has launched since Washington’s introduction of sanctions last May that barred US companies from selling to the Chinese group unless specifically licensed to do so.

In the wake of the sanctions, Huawei, which the Trump administration accuses of spying for Beijing, has had to find ways of replacing its US components. Crucially, Google can no longer supply its Android mobile services platform to the Chinese company.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Authors fume as online library “lends” unlimited free books

8 hours 52 min ago
Sign in front of Middle Country public Library in Centereach, New York, on March 26, 2020.

Enlarge / Sign in front of Middle Country public Library in Centereach, New York, on March 26, 2020. (credit: Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

For almost a decade, the Internet Archive, an online library best known for its Internet Wayback Machine, has let users "borrow" scanned digital copies of books held in its warehouse. Until recently, users could only check out as many copies as the organization had physical copies. But last week, The Internet Archive announced it was eliminating that restriction, allowing an unlimited number of users to check out a book simultaneously. The Internet Archive calls this the National Emergency Library.

Initial media coverage of the service was strongly positive. The New Yorker declared it a "gift to readers everywhere." But as word of the new service spread, it triggered a backlash from authors and publishers.

"As a reminder, there is no author bailout, booksellers bailout, or publisher bailout," author Alexander Chee tweeted on Friday. "The Internet Archive's 'emergency' copyrights grab endangers many already in terrible danger."

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Jedi Academy dev promises to fix mistake that let PC gamers slaughter console players

9 hours 49 sec ago
One video game character kills another with a lightsaber.

Enlarge / A single-player screenshot from the Switch version of Jedi Academy. (credit: Nintendo)

Just last week, the LucasArts-era PC cult classic Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy was ported to PlayStation 4 and Switch. Apart from some iffy menus, it's largely a decent port with a good control scheme, high-resolution graphics, decent framerates, and all the content present. It even has multiplayer!

But that last point has become something of a problem, as veteran PC players have found a way to enter console lobbies, and they're crushing the newer Switch and PS4 players.

It's made possible by the fact that the console ports' multiplayer servers appear to work the same way as their PC counterparts have for almost two decades, and the IP address for each server is exposed to the user. PC players can use that IP address in the Windows version of the game and join a Switch match. Forums like ResetEra have console players complaining that PC players are trolling them and that the invaders have an unfair advantage.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

FDA approves the emergency use of chloroquine for COVID-19

9 hours 6 min ago
Image of a person's hands holding pill packaging.

Enlarge / Medical staff at the IHU Mediterranee Infection Institute in Marseille shows packets of a Nivaquine (tablets containing chloroquine) and Plaqueril (tablets containing hydroxychloroquine) on February 26, 2020,. (credit: Gerard Julien/Getty Images)

On Saturday, the Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization that will allow patients suffering from COVID-19 to be treated using drugs without clear evidence of the drugs' efficacy. The move comes after President Donald Trump has touted the drugs' potential several times on the basis of tiny, anecdotal trials. There have also been reports of hoarding of the drugs, which are needed by people with some autoimmune disorders.

Potential or hype?

The drugs in question are relatives of chloroquine, specifically chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate. Originally developed as an antimalarial, chloroquine has a variety of effects, including the ability to reduce immune activity. That has made it useful for the treatment of autoimmune disorders such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Given its multiple effects, it's not surprising that the drug also has a variety of side effects, the most significant probably being a slowing of the heart's rhythm that can potentially lead to fatal complications. (Technically, the drug extends the QT interval.)

What does any of this have to do with a coronavirus? As we discussed when exploring potential treatments for SARS-CoV-2, chloroquine can also alter the pH of the compartment in which some viruses are brought into the cell. This can interfere with the process of depositing the virus' genome inside the cell and thus block the virus' ability to reproduce. Experiments in cultured cells infected by SARS-CoV-2 indicated that chloroquine treatments can keep the virus from spreading within the culture.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

OpenWRT code-execution bug puts millions of devices at risk

9 hours 33 min ago
Screenshot of OpenWrt.

Enlarge (credit: OpenWRT)

For almost three years, OpenWRT—the open source operating system that powers home routers and other types of embedded systems—has been vulnerable to remote code-execution attacks because updates were delivered over an unencrypted channel and digital signature verifications are easy to bypass, a researcher said.

OpenWRT has a loyal base of users who use the freely available package as an alternative to the firmware that comes installed on their devices. Besides routers, OpenWRT runs on smartphones, pocket computers and even laptops and desktop PCs. Users generally find OpenWRT to be a more secure choice because it offers advanced functions and its source code is easy to audit.

Security researcher Guido Vranken, however, recently found that updates and installation files were delivered over unencrypted HTTPs connections, which are open to attacks that allow adversaries to completely replace legitimate updates with malicious ones. The researcher also found that it was trivial for attackers with moderate experience to bypass digital-signature checks that verify a downloaded update as the legitimate one offered by OpenWTR maintainers. The combination of those two lapses makes it possible to send a malicious update that vulnerable devices will automatically install.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Zoom’s privacy problems are growing as platform explodes in popularity

9 hours 46 min ago
Ominous photograph of multi-story glass office building.

Enlarge / Zoom's San Jose, Calif., headquarters looks like a lovely place to be socially distanced from. (credit: Smith Collection | Gado | Getty Images)

We have several more weeks, if not several more months, to go in this sudden era of Everything from Home. Work from home, school from home, funerals from home, church from home, happy hour from home—you name it, and we as a society are trying as best as we can to pull it off remotely. Tech use as a result is up all over, but arguably the biggest winner to date of the "Oh, crap, where's my webcam" age is videoconferencing platform Zoom.

Zoom's ease of use, feature base, and free service tier have made it a go-to resource not only for all those office meetings that used to happen in conference rooms but also for teachers, religious services, and even governments. The widespread use, in turn, is shining a bright spotlight on Zoom's privacy and data-collection practices, which apparently leave much to be desired.

The challenge is particularly pronounced in the health care and education sectors: Zoom does offer specific enterprise-level packages—Zoom for Education and Zoom for Healthcare—that have compliance with privacy law (FERPA and HIPAA, respectively) baked in. Many users in those fields, however, may be on the free tier or using individual or other types of enterprise licenses that don't take these particular needs into consideration.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Comcast waiving data caps hasn’t hurt its network—why not make it permanent?

10 hours 9 min ago
Illustration of a water hose with Internet data trickling out of it, represented by 1s and 0s.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Back in the before times, when a larger percentage of the human race roamed the Earth, i.e., several weeks ago, Comcast customers had to deal with something called a "data cap." Cable users who consumed more than a terabyte of Comcast-branded Internet data in a single month had to pay an extra $10 for each additional, precious block of 50GB, or $50 more each month for unlimited data. Now, with a pandemic sweeping the United States and more people spending each day at home than ever, consumer-broadband usage is way up. But instead of raking in as many overage fees as it can, Comcast decided to upgrade everyone to unlimited data for no extra charge, for two months beginning March 13—and its network has no problem handling it.

Comcast on Monday said it has measured a 32 percent increase in peak traffic since March 1 and an increase of 60 percent in some parts of the US. VoIP and video conferencing is up 212 percent, VPN traffic is up 40 percent, gaming downloads are up 50 percent, and streaming video is up 38 percent.

Comcast, the nation's largest cable and home-Internet provider, described the pandemic's impact as "an unprecedented shift in network usage" but not one that diminishes Comcast's ability to provide sufficient Internet bandwidth. "It's within the capability of our network; and we continue to deliver the speeds and support the capacity our customers need while they're working, learning, and connecting from home," Comcast said. The company continues to monitor network performance and "add capacity where it's needed."

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Apple acquires Dark Sky weather app, and that’s bad news for Android users

10 hours 23 min ago

Popular weather app and data-collection service Dark Sky has been acquired by Apple for an undisclosed sum, a blog post from the Dark Sky team announced. The post claims that Dark Sky will now “reach far more people, with far more impact, than we ever could alone.”

The iOS app will not see any changes “at this time,” and it will continue to be listed on the App Store. Android and Wear OS are a different story, though. The Android app will no longer be available for download, and “service to existing users and subscribers will continue until July 1, 2020, at which point the app will be shut down.” Active subscribers will get a refund.

As for the website, which is also popular:

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Study: Future astronauts could use their own urine to help build moon bases

10 hours 28 min ago
Future moon bases could be built with 3D printers that mix materials such as Moon regolith, water, and astronauts’ urine.

Enlarge / Future moon bases could be built with 3D printers that mix materials such as Moon regolith, water, and astronauts’ urine. (credit: ESA/Foster and Partners)

Early last year, NASA announced an ambitious plan to return American astronauts to the Moon and establish a permanent base there, with an eye toward eventually placing astronauts on Mars. The Artemis Moon Program has its share of critics, including many in the US House of Representatives, who appear to prefer a stronger focus on a crewed mission to Mars. As Ars' Eric Berger reported last August, "NASA stands a very real risk of turning the Artemis Program into a repeat of the Apollo Program—a flags-and-footprints sprint back to the Moon with no follow-through in the form of a lunar base or a sustained presence in deep space."

But if the Artemis Program's ambitious objectives survive the appropriations process, materials science will be crucial to its success, particularly when it comes to the materials needed to construct a viable lunar base. Concrete, for instance, requires a substantial amount of added water in order to be usable in situ, and there is a pronounced short supply of water on the moon. In a new paper in the Journal of Cleaner Production, an international team of scientists suggests that astronauts setting up a base on the moon could use the urea in their urine as a plasticizer to create a concrete-like building material out of lunar soil.

There's certainly a strong argument to be made for using existing materials on the Moon itself to construct a lunar base. NASA estimates that it costs around $10,000 to transport one pound of material into orbit, according to the authors. Past proposals have called for 3D printing with Sorel cement, which requires significant amounts of chemicals and water (consumables), and a rocklike material that would require both water and phosphoric acid as a liquid binder. (The latter might be better suited to constructing a base on Mars.)

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Apple’s new MacBook Air and Mac Mini are already discounted

10 hours 47 min ago
Collage of devices and software for sale.

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a couple of early deals on the entry-level models of Apple's latest MacBook Air and Mac Mini. The former is down to $950 at Amazon, a $50 discount, while the latter is down to $699 at B&H, a $100 discount. These offers are fairly modest, but they're still noteworthy considering Apple only launched the new computers a couple weeks ago.

We gave the new MacBook Air a favorable review earlier this month, calling it "a really good laptop, and easy to recommend." Have a look there for the full rundown, but the new Air is still very well-built, now comes with more base storage at 256GB, and most importantly, comes with a new "Magic Keyboard" that should be much more agreeable and durable than the ultra-low-travel "butterfly" keyboards of recent models.

The new Mac Mini, meanwhile, is essentially identical to the refreshed model Apple released in 2018, but with the base storage bumped from 128GB to 256GB. Otherwise, it remains the lowest-cost and most compact way to bring macOS into a desktop environment for more casual tasks. This offer is $200 cheaper than the previous-gen 256GB Mac Mini's current going rate.

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Marvel, DC will delay digital comic books during brick-and-mortar closures

12 hours 49 min ago
Want new issues of your favorite comic book series? Switching to digital this week won't change their lack of availability.

Enlarge / Want new issues of your favorite comic book series? Switching to digital this week won't change their lack of availability. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty / Marvel)

Comic book fans received a huge blow last week when they learned that a ton of their favorite series wouldn't receive printed runs in the near future due to coronavirus concerns. That might be fine for those fans who have shifted to tablets and e-reader devices for their comics fix, but what about comics fans who not only want print versions, but also want to support their favorite local brick-and-mortar store?

This week, comics publishers responded by expressing solidarity with physical retail partners. For at least one week, Marvel, DC, and other major publishers will not launch new comics in print or on digital platforms.

On Tuesday, a bulletin sent by Marvel Entertainment President Dan Buckley to retail partners confirmed that its usual run of new Wednesday comic books would indeed not arrive in a physical format this Wednesday, April 1. No April Fool's joke there; this is due to Diamond, the biggest American distributor of print comic books, canceling shipment for any comics with a publish date of April 1 or later "until further notice," as per an announcement on March 23.

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Here’s the Trump admin’s pathetic new fuel efficiency rule for 2026

13 hours 3 min ago
Here’s the Trump admin’s pathetic new fuel efficiency rule for 2026

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

If proof were needed that the Trump administration never met an environmental regulation it didn't want to eviscerate, on Tuesday morning the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published final fuel efficiency rules for new passenger cars and light trucks for model years 2021 through 2026. As has been widely anticipated, the EPA and NHTSA have gutted plans established in 2012 to make the nation's fleet of vehicles more fuel-efficient.

Under the old rules, automakers had to get their fleets to an average of 46.7mpg (5l/100km) by MY2025. As of today, even that not-very-ambitious target is toast. Instead, the US government is only requiring the industry to achieve an average of 40.4mpg (5.8l/100km) by MY2026. Fleet-wide CO2 targets have been similarly watered down; by that same model year, the US passenger vehicle and light truck fleet must meet an average of 199g CO2/mile (124g/km). By contrast, new European Union rules that went into effect this year require EU fleet averages to drop below 153g/mile (95g/km), with massive fines in store for automakers that fail.

As continues to be the case, the rules are based on the footprint of a vehicle, with large trucks and SUVs being held to an even weaker standard. As long as a MY2026 pickup or SUV can meet 34.1mpg (6.9l/100km) and emit no more than 240g/mile (150g/km) of carbon dioxide, that's enough to satisfy the new regulations.

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Amazon: Walkout leader’s firing wasn’t due to his organizing efforts

14 hours 44 min ago
Workers protest outside a massive Amazon fulfillment center on Staten Island on Monday, March 30.

Enlarge / Workers protest outside a massive Amazon fulfillment center on Staten Island on Monday, March 30. (credit: New York Communities for Change)

Amazon has fired an employee after he helped organize a walkout of Amazon workers at a fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York. The worker, Chris Smalls, says Amazon was retaliating against him for his workplace activism.

“Taking action cost me my job,” Smalls said in a Monday interview on Bloomberg TV. “Because I tried to stand up for something that’s right, the company decided to retaliate against me.”

Amazon disputes that charge.

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Despite looming Google acquisition, Fitbit launches Charge 4 tracker

14 hours 54 min ago

Fitbit is still out there living its life and launching products despite a looming acquisition by Google that could upend the entire company any month now. Today Fitbit announced the Charge 4, the latest in its line of Charge devices that kind of sit at the halfway point between a smartwatch and a basic fitness tracker. The Charge 4 has the same body as the Charge 3, just with updated internals.

You won't be installing apps or playing music on it any time soon, but it can sync to your smartphone and show notifications on the grayscale OLED touchscreen. The device is mostly focused on fitness features, with exercise recognition, an activity dashboard, move reminders, and tracking of just about everything, including your general activity, your heart rate, and sleep.

Some big additions to the Charge 4 seemed designed to let you leave your smartphone at home. The first is an internal GPS for location tracking, which will let you log runs without a phone, but it will also severely cut down on the battery life. Fitbit claims the Charge 4 will last up to seven days if you don't turn on GPS, but turning on the GPS will cut that time down to five hours, a stunning 97-percent decrease in battery life. To go along with the new location tracking, there are now seven GPS-based exercise modes. Sync the device to the Fitbit app and you'll see a new "GPS-powered heat map" showing where your toughest workouts were.

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Michael Collins didn’t land on the Moon, but he got this song written about him

15 hours 3 min ago
Apollo 11 crew members (L-R) Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins are amused by a question posed shortly before launch.

Enlarge / Apollo 11 crew members (L-R) Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins are amused by a question posed shortly before launch. (credit: NASA)

Neil Armstrong was the first human to walk on the Moon. Buzz Aldrin soon followed him onto the lunar surface. And Michael Collins? Well, he remained behind, in lunar orbit. Alone.

For 50 years, he was portrayed by the media as the lonely astronaut. "The emphasis in the press was 'Wasn't I the loneliest person in the whole lonely world in the whole lonely orbit around some lonely thing?'" he recalled during an Explorer's Club event in New York City last year.

Collins insists he was not lonely. After being confined in the small Command Module with Armstrong and Aldrin for a few days, he enjoyed the respite while tracking their activities on the Moon's surface.

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Ars Pro Week, day 2: If you subscribe, we’ll pour more ketchup on Lee Hutchinson

15 hours 58 min ago
 If you subscribe, we’ll pour more ketchup on Lee Hutchinson

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Coronavirus. Climate change. Worldwide unrest. Mass extinctions. Killer robots. There's a lot of stuff to worry about, and more things get added to the list daily. (Seriously, the robots—why do the scientists keep making them?!)

So let's get this out of the way right now: I'm not here to give you anything else to worry about. But I am going to ask you to subscribe, because Ars could use your help.

From the forum to the front page

For folks who may not pay obsessive attention to every Ars writer's history, I came to Ars shortly after the site was founded in 1998. I made a forum account in 2000 so I could get help with a computer build issue. (It turned out that I needed to install my motherboard's VIA 4-in-1 drivers—and man, I do not miss that crap). Ars has been my online home for almost as long as I've been using the Internet; I was a subscriber for years before it even occurred to me that I might actually be able to work here.

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Florida bucks social distancing trend as COVID-19 cases skyrocket

16 hours 35 min ago
  Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attends a news conference in the Hard Rock Stadium parking lot on March 30, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Enlarge / MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - MARCH 30: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attends a news conference in the Hard Rock Stadium parking lot on March 30, 2020 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (credit: Getty | Joe Raedle)

As more and more states issue stay-at-home orders, Florida is taking a different—some say dangerous—approach to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the state’s confirmed case counts have rapidly risen in step with increased testing, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has rejected the idea of a state-wide order to keep people at home. Instead, the governor has opted to address coronavirus responses on a county-by-county basis, in hopes of sparing local economies.

On Monday, DeSantis signed an executive order urging residents in just four counties in Southeast Florida to stay in. The counties—Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Monroe—include some of the hardest hit in the state. Together, they have reported around 60 percent of the state’s 5,704 cases as of Tuesday, March 31. Many people in the four counties had already been limiting outings.

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SpaceX releases a Payload User’s Guide for its Starship rocket

17 hours 27 min ago
Starship comes in two flavors, crewed (top) and cargo (bottom).

Enlarge / Starship comes in two flavors, crewed (top) and cargo (bottom). (credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has released the first edition of a Payload User's Guide for its Starship launch system, which consists of a Super Heavy first stage and the Starship upper stage. The six-page guide provides some basic information for potential customers to judge whether a launch vehicle meets their needs for getting payloads into space.

The new guide is notable because it details the lift capabilities of Starship in reusable mode, during which both the first and second stages reserve enough fuel to return to Earth. In this configuration, the rocket can deliver more than 100 metric tons to low-Earth orbit and 21 tons to geostationary transfer orbit.

The killer application, however, is the potential to refuel Starship in low-Earth orbit with other Starships, enabling transportation deeper into the Solar System for 100 tons or more. "The maximum mass-to-orbit assumes parking orbit propellant transfer, allowing for a substantial increase in payload mass," the document states. SpaceX has yet to demonstrate this technology—which has never been done on a large scale in orbit—but the company's engineers have been working on it for several years and partnered with NASA last summer.

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As Volvo goes electric, here’s how it’s making its batteries top-notch

19 hours 13 min ago

Electric cars are becoming much more important to automakers, and that means those companies are having to learn how to get good with batteries. That was baked into Tesla from day one, but for existing automakers, batteries have to become a new core competency. Recently, Volvo opened its doors in Gothenburg, Sweden, to show us how that's happening, ahead of the launch later this year of its new battery EV, the XC40 Recharge.

Volvo was an early advocate for going electric, announcing a plan for its model range shortly after it told us that it was ending development on diesel engines. That plan calls for 50 percent of its sales to be BEVs by 2025, but actually implementing that plan is more involved than just holding a press conference, and it's a transformation that affects the entire company. Engineers are being retrained to work with electric motors instead of internal combustion engines. Supply lines and purchasing have to get to grips with responsibly sourcing a new range of materials. The carmaker even has to think about what its new EVs should sound like.

Volvos have to be safe

Volvo has built its reputation on safety, and obviously the move to electric powertrains can't be allowed to compromise that.

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