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: 55 min 22 sec ago

Sega’s next retro hardware is a 1/6th-scale multi-game arcade cabinet

1 hour 35 min ago

After the release of the Genesis Mini and the recent announcement of the Game Gear Mini, Sega doesn't show any signs of slowing down its plans for miniature retro hardware releases. The company's next entry in the space is the newly announced Astro City Mini, a tiny arcade cabinet set to sport 36 Sega arcade titles.

Japanese site Game Watch was the first to post details about the cabinet overnight, but its story came down quickly (perhaps due to a timing miscommunication with Sega?). That didn't stop other sites from capturing the relevant details, though.

According to those reports, the Astro City Mini will launch by the end of 2020 in Japan for an asking price of ¥12,800 (about $119). The chassis itself will be at one-sixth scale to an actual Astro City cabinet (5.1×6.7×6.7 inches, or 13×17×17cm), suggesting the original cabinet's 29-inch screen will be reduced to a roughly 4.8-inch diagonal LCD.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

An extended interview with Star Control creators Fred Ford & Paul Reiche III

1 hour 45 min ago

Directed by Sean Dacanay, edited by Marcus Niehaus. Click here for transcript.

In December of 2018, Ars was lucky enough to sit down with Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III—a pair of designers who have worked on a ton of amazing games but who are probably known best by geeks of a certain age as the creators of the Star Control series. Paul and Fred (one quickly begins referring to them with a single mashed-together word that kind of sounds like "paulnfred") were extraordinarily generous with their time, hauling out box after box of vintage game design documents, piles of meticulously folded maps and charts, notebooks full of sketches and UX concepts—a treasure trove of Star Control.

As with all of our "War Stories" videos, we had to edit down a few hours' worth of footage into a 10-to-15-ish minute video—that seems to be about the limit that most folks will tolerate when it comes to game design videos on YouTube. And as with all of our "War Stories" videos, we had a huge amount of great footage left over when we were done.

We used a few minutes of that footage to create a second video, titled "Six Degrees of Star Control." As we were discussing the genesis of Star Control, we found a lot of famous and soon-to-be-famous space game designers in the late '80s and early '90s crossed paths quite frequently, and Paul and Fred worked with a lot of big names. This includes folks like Starflight's Greg Johnson, Dungeons and Dragons artist Erol Otis, and Star Wars concept designer Ian McCaig.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Congress may allow NASA to launch Europa Clipper on a Falcon Heavy

1 hour 51 min ago
A full-scale prototype of the high-gain antenna on NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft.

Enlarge / A full-scale prototype of the high-gain antenna on NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft. (credit: NASA)

The US House of Representatives released its proposed fiscal year 2021 budget for NASA on Tuesday, funding the agency at $22.63 billion. This is the same amount of funding that was enacted for NASA's budget this year.

This is just the beginning of the budget process, of course. The White House released its budget request back in February, and now the House and Senate will establish their priorities. Months of negotiations will ensue, compounded by the COVID-19 crisis and the 2020 presidential election. After the fiscal year 2020 budget ends in October, a continuing resolution is likely. The 2021 budget seems unlikely to be resolved before December.

Still, the new document does tell us where Democrats and Republicans in the House think NASA funding should go. And there are a few important clues within worth discussing.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Elon Musk taunts Tesla critics as stock soars to new highs

2 hours 1 min ago
Elon Musk taunts Tesla critics as stock soars to new highs

Enlarge (credit: Tesla)

Tesla's stock leapt above $1,400 for the first time on Tuesday morning—a nearly 50 percent increase over the price just a week earlier. As of publication time, Tesla's stock has slumped a bit to around $1,380. That's still more than the stock was worth at any time before today and a six-fold jump from Tesla's share price a year earlier.

The primary villains in Tesla's mythology are "shorts": investors who short-sell the company's stock in hopes of profiting from a falling price. CEO Elon Musk has regularly taunted these critics about the company's rising stock price. On Sunday, Musk gleefully announced that Tesla was selling "limited edition short shorts" on its website.

The shorts are red with gold trim, with a small Tesla logo on the side. "S3XY" is emblazoned across the back in large type. The shorts cost "only $69.420," Musk wrote. As I write this on Tuesday morning, the shorts are sold out.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Petnet charges new $30 annual fee for a service that still doesn’t work

2 hours 16 min ago
 Insistent, deeply annoyed meowing.

Enlarge / Example of how your furry friend may react to your automated pet feeder being offline. Not pictured: Insistent, deeply annoyed meowing. (credit: Catherine Falls Commercial | Getty Images)

It has not been a good year for customers of Petnet's cloud-connected automated pet-feeder system. After a rough spring, with multiple prolonged service outages, the company tried a last-ditch plea to its customers: pay a subscription fee of $4 a month, or $30 a year, and we'll be able to keep the lights on. Some users paid up—but it was apparently in vain, as their smartfeeders are still basically paperweights without connected service.

Petnet's public troubles began in February, when a service outage took feeders offline. The connection issues lasted for more than a week, during which time Petnet was completely and utterly unresponsive to customer complaints made by email, phone, or Twitter. Nor were customers the only ones who couldn't reach the company: messages Ars and other outlets sent to Petnet's press contact bounced back with an error saying the email address did not exist.

Service was finally restored—but only fleetingly, it turned out. Customers again began to complain of system outages beginning in late March. That time, Petnet blamed the COVID-19 crisis for its lack of response, saying in a March 26 email, "One of our third party vendors has notified us that due to COVID-19 their operations are experiencing an adverse effect. We will monitor this situation closely and provide you with any updates as they arise."

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The rise and fall of Adobe Flash

5 hours 25 min ago
Soon, Adobe itself will remove Flash Player from computers, too.

Soon, Adobe itself will remove Flash Player from computers, too.

Few technologies have yielded such divisive and widespread passion as Flash. Many gush over its versatility and ease of use as a creative platform or its critical role in the rise of web video. Others abhor Flash-based advertising and Web design, or they despise the resource-intensiveness of the Flash Player plugin in its later years.

Whichever side of the love-hate divide you land on, there's no denying the fact that Flash changed how we consume, create, and interact with content on the Web. For better and worse, it helped shape the Internet of today.

But now, after roughly 25 years, Flash is finally nearing its end. In less than six months—December 2020—Adobe will officially end support and distribution of Flash Player, the browser plugin we all associate most strongly with the technology. And already, months ahead of this end-of-life switch, Flash has been disabled in most Web browsers (often flagged as a security risk should you choose to override the default settings). Even Google Chrome, long the browser of choice for Flash content, will soon remove Flash Player.

Read 69 remaining paragraphs | Comments

COVID-19 safety: Around the world, many of the elderly can’t be bothered

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 4:11pm
An elderly gentleman wearing a face mask.

Enlarge (credit: David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

There are still a significant number of unknowns about the coronavirus—we're struggling to understand what influences the severity of some cases, why other people remain asymptomatic, and why most people experience only a subset of its total symptoms list. But one thing has been crystal clear in the data: the elderly are most at risk from COVID-19. A disproportionate number of the fatalities have come in those over 65.

As such, many countries have implemented strategies focused on minimizing the risks for the elderly, and appeals to the public have been made centered around protecting older family members. But are the elderly doing their part to protect themselves? Not really, according to a study that analyzed survey data from dozens of countries.

Following advice?

The work was done by Jean-François Daoust, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh. Daoust took advantage of a huge collection of survey data obtained by YouGov and Imperial College London. The dataset is enormous. While Daoust had to exclude India and China, where the population surveyed wasn't representative of the country's demographics, he was still left with over 72,000 people in 27 countries (Africa is notably unrepresented, and the only South American country is Brazil.) While his main conclusions are drawn from the data as a whole, Daoust also did country- and region-level analyses to look for differences in attitudes.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Toxic hand sanitizers have blinded and killed adults and children, FDA warns

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 3:54pm
A person holding a bottle of soap and washing their hands.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Jena Ardell)

Adults and children in the United States have been blinded, hospitalized, and, in some cases, even died after drinking hand sanitizers contaminated with the extremely toxic alcohol methanol, the Food and Drug Administration reports.

In an updated safety warning, the agency identified five more brands of hand sanitizer that contain methanol, a simple alcohol often linked to incorrectly distilled liquor that is poisonous if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.

The newly identified products are in addition to nine methanol-containing sanitizers the FDA identified last month, which are all made by the Mexico-based manufacturer Eskbiochem SA de CV. According to FDA testing, one of the products contained 81 percent methanol and no ethanol, a safe alcohol typically used in hand sanitizers. At the time, the agency reported that it was “not aware of any reports of adverse events associated with these hand sanitizer products.”

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

FBI nabs Nigerian business scammer who allegedly cost victims millions

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 3:12pm
A smiling man leans against an expensive car parked in front of a private jet.

Enlarge / Ray "Hushpuppi" Abbas poses in front of a private jet in a 2019 Instagram photo. "It’s a different type of GLOW and STANDARD when you start hopping out of Rolls Royces to catch a Jet just to attend fashion shows in a different continent," he wrote. "Your smile begin to be bright just as the sun." (credit: Ramon Abbas)

The US government has gained custody of a Nigerian man who is accused of participating in a massive fraud and money laundering operation. The defendant, Ray "Hushpuppi" Abbas, has amassed 2.4 million followers on Instagram, where he flaunts his access to luxury cars, designer clothing, and private jets. The feds say that he gained this wealth by defrauding banks, law firms, and other businesses out of millions of dollars. He was arrested last month by authorities in the United Arab Emirates, where he had been living.

The FBI's criminal complaint details how the government obtained a wealth of information tying Abbas to his alleged crimes. Abbas was an avid user of American technology platforms, including Instagram, Gmail, iCloud, and Snapchat. Accounts on these platforms were all registered using a handful of common email addresses and phone numbers. Abbas's main email account—rayhushpuppi@gmail.com—included a copy of Abbas' lease at a luxury hotel in Dubai and scans of various government-issued photo IDs under Abbas' name.

Abbas is accused of participating in a number of "business email compromise" scams. By posing as trusted employees or customers of a target organization, Abbas and his fellow fraudsters allegedly tricked employees into sending large sums to bank accounts they controlled.

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OnePlus’ sub-$500 smartphone launches July 21

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 2:49pm

OnePlus appears to have picked a date for the launch of its midrange smartphone: July 21. Invites for the event were posted early to Amazon India (a major launch country for the device) and first spotted by leaker Ishan Agarwal (the actual tweet has been deleted, but XDA has a backup). Amazon pulled the page down, too, but a Google cache copy still exists.

OnePlus has been slowly dripping out information on its next smartphone, which will see a return to a cheaper price tag. Early rumors called the phone the "OnePlus 8 Lite" or "OnePlus Z," but the company confirmed the phone will go with the odd moniker of "OnePlus Nord," a word that means "north" in several languages. We might not know all the specs, but OnePlus has already confirmed the price will be "under $500."

OnePlus says the phone will come with a Snapdragon 765G and will sport a "flagship camera." Sadly, North America does not seem to be in the first wave of countries for this release, with OnePlus CEO Pete Lau saying, "we are going to start relatively small with this new product line by first introducing it in Europe and India. But don't worry, we're also looking to bring more affordable smartphones to North America in the near future as well."

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Microsoft’s next Xbox Series X game showcase coming July 23

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 12:02pm
Promotional image of video game.

Enlarge / Halo Infinite is still slated to launch close to Xbox Series X's "holiday 2020" launch window. (credit: Xbox)

Our next look at new games for the Xbox Series X will be coming on July 23. That's when Microsoft will be holding its next Xbox Games Showcase, the company announced today, streaming on multiple digital platforms starting at 9am Pacific Time.

Unlike Microsoft's May promotional event, which focused on third-party launch titles for the upcoming console, the July 23 event is expected to discuss first-party exclusives from Microsoft's own Xbox Game Studios. That likely includes new footage of Halo Infinite, which saw a new teaser trailer a few weeks ago.

"Xbox Series X is now in the hands of our 15 Xbox Game Studios teams and the biggest names from our network of game development and publishing studios worldwide, ensuring Xbox Series X will power a new generation of blockbuster games, like Halo Infinite," Microsoft said in a blog post last month.

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Exoplanet in the hot-Neptune desert is the first of its kind

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 11:42am
Planets and moons orbiting a star.

Enlarge / Artist's conception of a gas giant planetary system. Unlike TOI-849b, this one still has its enormous gassy envelope. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In 2018, scientists monitoring TESS—the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite—discovered a giant planet in close orbit around the star TOI-849, roughly 735 light years away. Nature recently published a paper from scientists at the Centre for Exoplanets and Habitability that describes this planet in detail.

TOI-849b is roughly 40 times the mass of Earth, which would normally indicate a gas giant, weighing in somewhere between Saturn and Neptune. Yet its radius is smaller than Neptune's, although it has more than double Neptune's mass. Since it's hard to see how that can happen in a gaseous world, the scientists suggest that the planet may once have been a gas giant, stripped now nearly to its solid core. The alternative is that it might have formed in a highly unusual way that allowed it to avoid accumulating much gas in the first place.

TOI-849b's host star is a late G-class yellow dwarf, a little cooler and approximately 2 billion years older than our Sun, with about nine-tenths its mass and radius. TOI-849b is very close to its host—its orbital period is a little over 18 hours. That means the farthest distance from its star is only 0.02 Astronomical Units (the typical distance between Earth and our Sun). For reference, our own Mercury orbits the Sun nearly 20 times more distantly, at almost 0.4 AU.

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F1 2020 reviewed—Codemasters takes another racing game win

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 11:21am

In the before times, pre-pandemic, the annual installment of the officially licensed Formula 1 game would arrive about midway through the championship. But we're not in the long-long ago anymore, and in our 2020, F1 started an abbreviated, socially distanced season at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. So when F1 2020 launches this week—tomorrow for the Deluxe Schumacher Edition, Friday for the standard edition—it takes players to an alternate universe where there is no COVID-19 and where F1 racing started as usual in Australia, in March.

The team at Codemasters probably didn't intend for a multiverse angle for F1 2020, but if this year has taught us anything, it's to make the best of the cards we're dealt. The upside to this digital release is that it means you can race wheel-to-wheel at new tracks in Hanoi in Vietnam and Zandvoort in the Netherlands almost a year before they'll host their first F1 events in meatspace. But the addition of a couple of new circuits isn't the only way that Codies have kept things from getting stale—no mean feat for an official franchise for a sport that doesn't really change a huge amount year-to-year.

Whose team? My team

Probably the biggest new addition to F1 2020's gameplay is a new career mode. This one is called My Team, because instead of joining one of the existing 10 teams, it puts you in the role of a new team owner (as well as F1 racing driver). You get to pick the team name, design a livery and logo, find a title sponsor, and choose a second driver for the team. Then, in between races, you'll manage the team, which (hopefully) involves bringing in more money than you spend, all the while keeping each department happy.

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Supreme Court strikes down 2015 law allowing robocalls by debt collectors

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 9:47am
The words

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Olivier Le Moal)

The US Supreme Court today struck down a provision in US law that let debt collectors make robocalls to cell phones, ruling that the law violates the First Amendment by favoring debt-collection speech over other speech.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 prohibits "almost all robocalls to cell phones," but Congress in 2015 amended the law to add "a new government-debt exception that allows robocalls made solely to collect a debt owed to or guaranteed by the United States," the Supreme Court noted in today's ruling. The opinion was written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

"As the Government concedes, the robocall restriction with the government-debt exception cannot satisfy strict scrutiny," the ruling said. "The Government has not sufficiently justified the differentiation between government-debt collection speech and other important categories of robocall speech, such as political speech, issue advocacy, and the like." Government-backed loans affected by the ruling include student loans, home mortgages, veterans' loans, farm loans, and business loans.

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Morpheus speaks with the voice of James McAvoy in The Sandman audio drama

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 9:40am

Neil Gaiman narrates The Sandman audio drama, coming July 15 on Audible.

We're just a week or so away from the official release of The Sandman, a multi-part audio drama adaptation of Neil Gaiman's seminal graphic novel series, via Audible Original. And we also have a new teaser for the drama, directed by Dirk Maggs. Maggs also directed the audio drama adaptations of Good Omens and Gaiman's novel Anansi Boys.

For the uninitiated, the titular "sandman" is Dream, also called Morpheus, among other names. He is one of seven entities known as the Endless, and he is seeking to set right his past mistakes. The other Endless are Destiny, Destruction, Despair, Desire, Delirium, and Death, portrayed as a perky punk/goth young woman—they became almost as popular as Dream himself and were featured in several spinoff comics. 

The audio drama will cover the first three of the series' ten volumes: Preludes and Nocturnes, The Doll's House, and Dream Country. The series opens when Morpheus, the King of Dreams, escapes from a 70-year imprisonment by an occultist (who actually wanted to capture Dream's sibling Death but trapped the Sandman by mistake). From there, per the official synopsis:

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The Norman Conquest didn’t change ordinary people’s lives very much

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 9:30am
The Norman Conquest didn’t change ordinary people’s lives very much

(credit: By unknown seamsters, Public Domain)

When William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings, he became King of England in 1066. This changed the political landscape of Europe and the course of world history. For the English aristocracy and religious leaders, the world turned upside down as William replaced them with his handpicked Normans. But what was it like for ordinary people in England? A recent study suggests that, for them, not much changed under the new regime.

We usually see the Norman Conquest from the lofty and often perilous view of nobility and clergy. The roughly 2 million (based on a 1086 census) ordinary people who lived through the upheaval left behind no written records to tell us how they felt or what they experienced. To understand what their lives were like during the Norman Conquest and the years of political, economic, and social upheaval in its wake, archaeologists have to turn to other kinds of evidence.

For the new study, Elizabeth Craig-Atkins (University of Sheffield), Richard Madgwick (Cardiff University), and their colleagues cobbled together part of the story from the bones and teeth of medieval Britons, as well as animal remains and microscopic residues left behind in cooking pottery. Together, those lines of evidence revealed what—and how well—people ate in the years on either side of the Norman Conquest. The results suggest that food supplies got a bit scarce during the conquest and the sporadic fighting that followed, but some aspects of life didn’t change much in its wake.

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Uber plans to gobble up delivery rival Postmates in $2.6 billion deal

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 9:15am
Bicycle couriers making deliveries to Uber Eats customers in São Paulo in April, 2019 (a year before the novel coronavirus pandemic).

Enlarge / Bicycle couriers making deliveries to Uber Eats customers in São Paulo in April, 2019 (a year before the novel coronavirus pandemic). (credit: Joel Carillet | Getty Images)

Uber is trying again to acquire a food delivery rival after it wiped out on its last attempt earlier this year. The company said today it plans to chow down on Postmates in a deal valued at $2.6 billion.

The companies announced the all-stock transaction this morning. Uber said the companies' businesses are "highly complementary," as they have different customer bases in different parts of the country. Uber in its press release praised Postmates as "an early pioneer of 'delivery-as-a-service,'" a truly spectacular buzzword jam for our era.

What Uber probably wants, though, is for someone to deliver it a profit. The company lost $2.9 billion in the first quarter of this year (period ending March 31), after losing $1.1 billion each in Q4 and Q3 and a whopping $5 billion in the quarter before that.

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New Mac ransomware is even more sinister than it appears

Sun, 07/05/2020 - 8:30am
Scrabble letters sitting atop laptop computer spell Ransomware.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

The threat of ransomware may seem ubiquitous, but there haven't been too many strains tailored specifically to infect Apple's Mac computers since the first full-fledged Mac ransomware surfaced only four years ago. So when Dinesh Devadoss, a malware researcher at the firm K7 Lab, published findings on Tuesday about a new example of Mac ransomware, that fact alone was significant. It turns out, though, that the malware, which researchers are now calling ThiefQuest, gets more interesting from there. (Researchers originally dubbed it EvilQuest until they discovered the Steam game series of the same name.)

In addition to ransomware, ThiefQuest has a whole other set of spyware capabilities that allow it to exfiltrate files from an infected computer, search the system for passwords and cryptocurrency wallet data, and run a robust keylogger to grab passwords, credit card numbers, or other financial information as a user types it in. The spyware component also lurks persistently as a backdoor on infected devices, meaning it sticks around even after a computer reboots, and could be used as a launchpad for additional, or "second stage," attacks. Given that ransomware is so rare on Macs to begin with, this one-two punch is especially noteworthy.

"Looking at the code, if you split the ransomware logic from all the other backdoor logic the two pieces completely make sense as individual malware. But compiling them together you're kind of like what?" says Patrick Wardle, principal security researcher at the Mac management firm Jamf. "My current gut feeling about all of this is that someone basically was designing a piece of Mac malware that would give them the ability to completely remotely control an infected system. And then they also added some ransomware capability as a way to make extra money."

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As COVID-19 spreads, researchers track an influenza virus nervously

Sun, 07/05/2020 - 8:00am
Image of pigs snuggling.

Enlarge (credit: Liz West / Flickr)

SARS-CoV-2 wasn't the first coronavirus that spawned fears of a pandemic; there were worries about SARS and MERS before it arrived. But influenza viruses have also been a regular source of worries, as they can often spread from agricultural animals to us. Earlier this week, a report was released that described an influenza virus with what the researchers who identified it called "pandemic potential." The virus is currently jumping from agricultural animals to us, but it is not currently able to spread between humans.

Under surveillance

The institutions that some of these researchers are affiliated with—the Key Laboratory of Animal Epidemiology and Zoonosis, the Chinese National Influenza Center, and the Center for Influenza Research and Early-Warning—provide some indication of how seriously China has been taking the risk of the newly evolved influenza strain.

For seven years, these centers supported the researchers as they did something that makes whatever you did for your thesis research seem pleasant: taking nasal swabs from pigs. Nearly 30,000 of these swabs came from random pigs showing up at slaughterhouses, plus another 1,000 from pigs brought in to veterinary practices with respiratory problems. Why pigs? Well, for one, some historic pandemics, named for their species of origin, are called swine flu. And there's a reason for this: pigs are known to be infected by influenza viruses native to other pigs, to birds, and to us humans—who they often find themselves in close proximity to.

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Homebound with EarthBound

Sun, 07/05/2020 - 7:00am

EarthBound got a nice Nintendo Power push. But in retrospect, Nintendo of America, you could've tried a lot harder with this trailer.

Give me 10 minutes. I need to defeat five giant moles so the miner can find the gold... which I need to get $1 million and bail out the rock band... who can arrange a meeting with the evil real-estate-developer-turned-mayor I need to beat down.

My partner doesn't get it, which I completely understand. When I first tried EarthBound, I didn't either. The now-cult-classic SNES title first arrived in the United States in June 1995. And I, a nine-year-old, had no chance. I craved action as a kid gamer, and that largely meant co-op, multiplayer, and sports titles (a lot of NBA Jam, Street Fighter, and Turtles in Time). Nothing about EarthBound, particularly when only experienced piecemeal through a weekend rental window, would ever speak to me. As one of the most high-profile JRPGs of the early SNES era, it embodied all the stereotypes eventually associated with the genre: at-times batshit fantastical storylines; slow, s l o w pacing; virtually non-existent action mechanics.

Frankly, I wasn't alone. Based on its sales, not many gamers seemed to understand EarthBound, and it's not clear Nintendo did, either. What on Earth does the trailer above say to you? In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the company again and again (and again) tried to find a hit JRPG in the States without much success. Nintendo literally gave away games like Dragon Warrior—as a Nintendo Power pack-in—and still couldn't find an audience. Even the heralded Final Fantasy franchise struggled initially, as Nintendo brought it stateside with a big, splashy map-filled box that no one seemed to care about in the moment.

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