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: 44 min 22 sec ago

A new type of supply-chain attack with serious consequences is flourishing

3 hours 29 min ago
A computer screen is filled with code.

Enlarge (credit: Przemyslaw Klos / EyeEm / Getty Images)

A new type of supply chain attack unveiled last month is targeting more and more companies, with new rounds this week taking aim at Microsoft, Amazon, Slack, Lyft, Zillow, and an unknown number of others. In weeks past, Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, and 32 other companies were targeted by a similar attack that allowed a security researcher to execute unauthorized code inside their networks.

The latest attack against Microsoft was also carried out as a proof-of-concept by a researcher. Attacks targeting Amazon, Slack, Lyft, and Zillow, by contrast, were malicious, but it’s not clear if they succeeded in executing the malware inside their networks. The npm and PyPi open source code repositories, meanwhile, have been flooded with more than 5,000 proof-of-concept packages, according to Sonatype, a firm that helps customers secure the applications they develop.

“Given the daily volume of suspicious npm packages being picked up by Sonatype’s automated malware detection systems, we only expect this trend to increase, with adversaries abusing dependency confusion to conduct even more sinister activities,” Sonatype researcher Ax Sharma wrote earlier this week.

Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

We’re living on a planet of ants

3 hours 44 min ago
We’re living on a planet of ants

Enlarge

Susanne Foitzik is a proud myrmecologist: an entomologist who specializes in ants (it was a new vocab word for me, too). Her lab at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich studies the dynamics between slave-making ant species, which capture ants of other species and get them to work for them, and the host species they exploit. What genetic changes have turned a species of diligent worker ants like Temnothorax longispinosus into ravaging hordes of slave makers like Temnothorax americanus?

And what induces the enslaved ant workers to rise up in revolt, killing their oppressor’s pupae? (This is not metaphorical; it really happens). Ant eggs and larvae don’t yet make a species-specific scent, so the enslaved nursemaids caring for them think they’re rearing the young of their own colony. Once the babes hit the pupal stage, though, they start to stink like the slave-makers they are destined to become and their caretakers realize they’ve been duped. At that point they “bite the defenseless young insects to death, rip them to shreds, and throw them out of the nesting chamber.”

A labor of love

Dr. Foitzik really, really loves ants—even the slave-making kind. That love shines through on every page of her new book, Empire of Ants: The Hidden Worlds and Extraordinary Lives of Earth's Tiny Conquerors, co-authored with Olaf Fritsche. She loves them so much, in fact, that she's chosen to start each chapter with her charming drawings of different ant species engaged in their daily activities (see example above). 

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Gig companies fear a worker shortage, despite a recession

5 hours 44 min ago
Gig companies fear a worker shortage, despite a recession

Enlarge (credit: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Unemployment in the US remains stubbornly high at 6.3 percent. Job growth has stalled, with 9.6 million fewer jobs in January than the same month a year earlier. But gig companies say they’re having trouble finding people to drive, pick up, and deliver for them.

“I’m worried about one thing going into the second half of the year: Are we going to have enough drivers to meet the demand that we’re going to have?” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told an analyst last month. DoorDash chief financial officer Prabir Adarkar called the situation “a tale of two cities,” with hordes of new customers racing to order takeout but fewer drivers offering to deliver it. DoorDash orders more than tripled in the last part of 2020, compared with the same period a year earlier.

The looming driver shortage confounds executives’ predictions. “With record unemployment, we expect driver supply to outstrip rider demand” for the “foreseeable future,” Lyft CEO Logan Green said in May. For a time early in the pandemic, Lyft blocked new drivers from signing up. It was understandable, because today’s tech gig companies were born during the Great Recession. They benefited from a deep pool of workers newly outfitted with smartphones and suddenly in need of supplemental income.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Feds indict John McAfee for cryptocurrency pump-and-dump fraud

6 hours 13 min ago
John McAfee on his yacht off the coast of Cuba in 2019.

Enlarge / John McAfee on his yacht off the coast of Cuba in 2019. (credit: Adalberto ROQUE / AFP / Getty)

Federal prosecutors have indicted noted cybersecurity eccentric John McAfee for securities and wire fraud for misleading investors at the peak of the last cryptocurrency boom. In late 2017 and early 2018, McAfee urged his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers to invest in a number of obscure cryptocurrencies. Prosecutors say he failed to disclose his own financial stake in those tokens—and in some cases outright lied about it.

McAfee has been in custody in Spain since his arrest at a Barcelona airport last October. He was already facing extradition to the United States on tax evasion charges; the self-described Libertarian hasn't filed a tax return for several years. Now he will face additional charges of securities and wire fraud alongside bodyguard Jimmy Watson, who allegedly helped McAfee carry out some of his pump-and-dump schemes.

The criminal complaint covers much of the same ground as a civil lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange commission at the time of his arrest last October.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

China’s and Russia’s spying sprees will take years to unpack

6 hours 58 min ago
China’s and Russia’s spying sprees will take years to unpack

Enlarge

First it was SolarWinds, a reportedly Russian hacking campaign that stretches back almost a year and has felled at least nine US government agencies and countless private companies. Now it’s Hafnium, a Chinese group that’s been attacking a vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange Server to sneak into victims’ email inboxes and beyond. The collective toll of these espionage sprees is still being uncovered. It may never be fully known.

Countries spy on each other, everywhere, all the time. They always have. But the extent and sophistication of Russia's and China’s latest efforts still manage to shock. And the near-term fallout of both underscores just how tricky it can be to take the full measure of a campaign even after you’ve sniffed it out.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Microsoft adds Startup Boost, Sleeping Tabs to Edge build 89

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 2:03pm
We're not sure why Chromium-based Edge's branding seems so thoroughly wet.

Enlarge / We're not sure why Chromium-based Edge's branding seems so thoroughly wet. (credit: Microsoft)

This week, Microsoft announced several more features trickling down to Edge Stable from its Beta insider channel. These features include Startup Boost, Sleeping Tabs, Vertical Tabs, and a more navigable History dialog. The company also announced some welcome interface tweaks to Bing—which Microsoft insists on categorizing as Edge features, but these items seem to apply equally to Bing in any browser so far.

If you're not familiar with Microsoft Edge's release and download system, there are three Insider channels (Canary, Dev, and Beta) that represent daily, weekly, and six-weekly updates in increasing order of stability. New features debut there before eventually making their way into Stable, where normal users will encounter them.

If you're a Windows user, you can't actually download new builds in the Stable channel directly. Instead, you must either look for them in Windows Update or navigate to edge://settings/help in-browser and ask Edge to check for updates to itself. If you'd also like to check out the Edge Insider builds, you can do so safely—they won't replace your Edge Stable; they install side-by-side, with separate icons on your taskbar making them easy to distinguish.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Visual Studio Code now runs natively on M1 Macs

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 1:35pm
The 2020, M1-equipped Mac mini.

Enlarge / The 2020, M1-equipped Mac mini. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Microsoft has released a new version of source-code editor Visual Studio Code that runs natively on Apple Silicon Macs like the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini models with Apple M1 chips.

The change came in Visual Studio Code 1.54 (now 1.54.1, thanks to a bug fix update), which is available as a universal 64-bit binary, as is standard for apps with Apple Silicon support. That said, Microsoft also offers downloads for x86-64 and Arm64 versions specifically, if desired.

There are no differences in features between the two versions, of course. And the non-Apple Silicon version worked just fine on M1 Macs previously via Rosetta, but Microsoft says M1 users can expect a few optimizations with the new binaries:

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Proposed law could force ISPs to stop hiding true size of monthly bills

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 12:59pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | McCaig)

Internet service providers could be required to release "broadband nutrition labels" with detailed information about prices, speeds, and data caps under legislation introduced by US Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.).

Craig's "Broadband Consumer Transparency Act" would bring back expanded transparency requirements that were eliminated when then-Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai repealed net neutrality rules and deregulated the broadband industry in December 2017.

The bill "would require straightforward disclosures in an easily understandable format to help consumers better understand the services they are purchasing and protect against hidden fees and sub-standard Internet performance," Craig said in a press release yesterday. The press release said the bill "would require sellers of broadband services to provide the following information to all consumers":

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Torvalds warns the world: Don’t use the Linux 5.12-rc1 kernel

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 12:10pm
Penguins aren't all equally trustworthy.

Enlarge / Penguins aren't all equally trustworthy. (credit: Bernard Spragg)

In a message to the Linux Kernel Mailing List yesterday, founding developer Linus Torvalds warned the world not to use the 5.12-rc1 kernel in his public git tree.

Hey peeps - some of you may have already noticed that in my public git tree, the "v5.12-rc1" tag has magically been renamed to "v5.12-rc1-dontuse". It's still the same object, it still says "v5.12-rc1" internally and it is still is signed by me, but the user-visible name of the tag has changed.

As it turns out, when Linus Torvalds flags some code dontuse, he really means it—the problem with this 5.12 release candidate broke swapfile handling in a very unpleasant way. Specifically, the updated code would lose the proper offset pointing to the beginning of the swapfile. Again, in Torvalds' own words, "swapping still happened, but it happened to the wrong part of the filesystem, with the obvious catastrophic end results."

If your imagination is insufficient, this means that when the kernel paged contents of memory out to disk, the data would land on random parts of the same disk and partition the swapfile lived on... not as files, mind you, but as garbage spewed directly to raw sectors on the disk. This means overwriting not only data in existing files, but also rather large chunks of metadata whose corruption would likely render the entire filesystem unmountable and unusable.

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White House signals coming antitrust push with Tim Wu appointment

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 11:01am
The White House South Lawn, which is unfortunately not the view most folks working for a presidential administration have.

Enlarge / The White House South Lawn, which is unfortunately not the view most folks working for a presidential administration have. (credit: Joe Daniel Price | Getty Images)

Longtime tech critic Tim Wu is joining the Biden administration as an adviser on technology and competition, a signal that the White House is likely to push for policies that rein in Big Tech.

Wu will be serving on the National Economic Council as special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy, the White House said this morning. Wu confirmed the news in a tweet.

Wu is best known in tech circles as the man who coined the term "net neutrality" in the early 2000s. He has held several positions at the federal level before, including advisory roles with both the Federal Trade Commission and the National Economic Council. He has also been a full professor at Columbia University law school since 2006, where he teaches First Amendment and antitrust law.

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How to beat Paper Mario really fast by… playing Ocarina of Time?

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 10:52am

Probably the only Paper Mario speedrun you've ever seen that includes extensive Ocarina of Time gameplay.

The idea of using video games as a way to achieve some form of Arbitrary Code Execution (ACE) on classic hardware has come a long way since seven years ago, when TASbot publicly reprogrammed a Super NES on the fly via Super Mario World. There are now dozens of examples of similar glitches that use nothing but controller inputs to insert new programming instructions into classic games, including many that can be performed by humans (and not just button-mashing robots).

Even given all that history, though, we’re still a bit wowed by the speedrunning community that found a way to insert new code into Paper Mario for the N64, leading to a new record-setting speedrun of the game. Their new method requires some extremely careful character positioning, the exploitation of “junk” memory in the N64’s RAM expansion pack and, amazingly, playing a couple of games of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Enter the effects matrix

The story of how this incredible method was discovered goes back two months, when a Paper Mario speedrunner who goes by Morpheus stumbled on a mysterious game crash in the middle of a livestreamed run. Players eventually discovered that Morpheus had accidentally triggered a situation where the game was storing too much data in the “effects matrix,” a data structure the game uses to store details of visual effects like smoke from Mario’s hammer blows.

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Under intense pressure, WHO skips summary report on coronavirus origin

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 10:41am
Liang Wannian (2nd L) and Peter Ben Embarek (3rd R) both members of the WHO-China joint study team, shake hands after the WHO-China joint study press conference in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, on Feb. 9, 2021.

Enlarge / Liang Wannian (2nd L) and Peter Ben Embarek (3rd R) both members of the WHO-China joint study team, shake hands after the WHO-China joint study press conference in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, on Feb. 9, 2021. (credit: Getty | Xinhua News Agency )

Facing intense international pressure and criticism, the World Health Organization has abandoned plans to release a summary report of its investigation into the possible origin of the pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

Instead, the health agency of the United Nations is skipping the summary report and plans to release a full report the week of March 15. The WHO had previously said it would release a summary report in mid-February.

“By definition, a summary report does not have all the details,” Dr. Ben Embarek, a WHO expert who led the investigation, told The Wall Street Journal. “So since there [is] so much interest in this report, a summary only would not satisfy the curiosity of the readers.”

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The Toyota Highlander hybrid is a big three-row with a buzzy engine

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 10:19am

I'm not quite sure exactly when the three-row SUV became the American family car, but we're firmly in that era now. The country has always liked its vehicles to be big, and the extra height of an SUV makes it extra-bigger. Which is why it's disappointing that there are so few hybrid three-rows to choose from, particularly if you don't want a luxury badge on the front. There are really only two options in 2021. You could go for the Kia Sorento Hybrid, which we tested in January. But for a little more—starting at $38,510 for a front-wheel-drive version—you could get an even bigger one: the new Toyota Highlander hybrid.

The country seems obsessed with imposing, bluff-fronted SUVs and trucks these days, and the Highlander conforms to this trend, albeit with less implicit menace than others have achieved. Toyota knows how to style attractive SUVs, but it's a challenge for any automaker to make something this big look elegant as opposed to slab-sided. And you do get a heck of a lot of vehicle when you get a Highlander. It's 195 inches (4,950 mm) long, 76 inches (1,930 mm) wide, and 68 inches (1.730 mm) tall, and it has a 112-inch (2,850 mm) wheelbase, all of which puts it in the "midsize" segment (something that still baffles an immigrant like me who considers it ginormous).

The result is an interior that goes beyond spacious. From the driver's seat, you have plenty of room between you and the passenger seat, and the door is far enough away that I started complaining there was nowhere convenient to rest my elbow. As is usually the case with press fleet vehicles, our test Highlander hybrid was fully loaded, in this case a $50,315 Platinum AWD model, so the interior is generously trimmed with leather. There are plenty of cubbies and shelves for storage, and I rather like the way the 12.3-inch infotainment system is framed by a bar that stretches out to the passenger-side A pillar. (As an infotainment system it's fine; it's the same one you'll find in the Venza hybrid crossover, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.)

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Typing my way down the mechanical keyboard rabbit hole with the Drop CTRL

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 9:30am

The keyboard is one of the two parts of a computer setup where flesh and blood meet plastic and metal. (The other being the mouse or trackpad.) Using a keyboard effectively means moving fingers with the precision a computer can understand, often doing so faster than the speed of conscious thought. So although many people are fine with a cheap or default keyboard—as long as it registers keypresses reliably—others don't mind spending a bit more on something better.

And then the real connoisseurs spend hundreds of dollars ordering parts from all over the world to build their own custom, dreamlike keyboard—a mechanical keyboard, of course, where each key has its own mechanical switch.

I didn't want to go too far overboard when I recently, finally took the custom keyboard plunge. So I decided to get the pre-built but very customizable Drop CTRL instead. The Drop CTRL is a tenkeyless with 100 Hz individual RGB LEDs supporting hot-swappable Cherry MX style switches (plate-mount only) running the QMK firmware. It comes with OEM profile doubleshot PBT shine-through keycaps and a choice of switches. Phew. But, no, none of that is meaningless marketing talk.

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Rocket Report: SpaceX explains landing failure, more on New Glenn delays

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 5:00am
In mid-February, a Falcon 9 launch was successful, but the first stage failed to land.

Enlarge / In mid-February, a Falcon 9 launch was successful, but the first stage failed to land. (credit: SpaceX)

Welcome to Edition 3.35 of the Rocket Report! There is an incredible amount of launch news this week, but I want to start with this: my new book on the origins of SpaceX, Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX, was published this week. Early reviews have been tremendous, and if you're at all interested in the company, or just want a rollicking story, please check it out.

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

Rocket Lab unveils plans for larger rocket. This week, the US rocket company said it had plans to go public, as well as develop a "Neutron" rocket capable of launching as much as 8 tons to low Earth orbit. "Rocket Lab solved small launch with Electron. Now we're unlocking a new category with Neutron," said Peter Beck, Rocket Lab founder and CEO, in a news release. The company plans an initial launch in 2024 but is only now beginning work on a new engine.

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Chairs Technica: We review two new models from Anda Seat

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 4:45am

Last October, we reviewed a pair of gaming/home office chairs—Secretlab's Omega and Anda Seat's more explicitly gaming-themed Fnatic. After several weeks of daily use, the Anda Fnatic took the crown for "favorite chair in the Salter household"—so when Anda offered two more models for review, we snapped them up.

Those two models are the Kaiser 2 and T-Pro 2, neither of which has an explicit esports team affiliation like the Anda Fnatic. This means a more austere appearance—particularly in the case of the T-Pro 2, which doesn't share the Fnatic's and Kaiser 2's neck-height "wings." Much like the Fnatic, these are excellent chairs—but having all three on hand at once made it clear how important picking the right chair for you and your body really is.

Unboxing and assembly

Assembling the Fnatic, Kaiser 2, and T-Pro 2 chairs all follows the same, simple blueprint:

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Meet Maxwell’s gambling demon—smart enough to quit while it’s ahead

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 3:39pm
In a new version of the classic 19th-century thought experiment, Maxwell’s demon plays the role of a gambler who knows when to quit while it's ahead.

Enlarge / In a new version of the classic 19th-century thought experiment, Maxwell’s demon plays the role of a gambler who knows when to quit while it's ahead. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Entropy (aka the second law of thermodynamics) is a harsh mistress. If you think of the universe as a cosmic casino, the laws of thermodynamics amount to the house edge: you can't win, you can't break even, and—barring opening a portal to an alternate universe with different physical laws—you can't get out of the game. You just have to keep playing and hopefully come up with successful strategies to minimize your losses as much as possible—and maybe even come out ahead occasionally, at least in the short term.

That's the essence of a new paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters. The paper updates a classic 19th-century thought experiment known as Maxwell's demon, which provides a potential loophole to subvert the second law—at least temporarily. Now physicists have proposed a gambling version of the demon playing a slot machine, unable to control when the machine pays out (in terms of free energy available for work) but able to choose when to stop playing to maximize its "winnings." The research might one day lead to improved efficiency of microscopic heat engines and motors.

As we've reported previously, around 1870, James Clerk Maxwell envisioned a tiny imp capable of creating order out of disorder in a closed container filled with gas. The imp accomplished this by making heat flow from a cold compartment to a hot one in apparent violation of the second law. The two compartments would be separated by a wall with a shutter covering a pinhole just large enough for a gas molecule to pass through. 

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US roads got more dangerous in 2020 even though we stayed at home

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 3:29pm
A metal STOP sign has been scratched extensively.

Enlarge / Close-up of a red stop sign after a traffic accident. The sign is heavily scratched and dented. Many vehicle accidents are attributed to drunk driving in Hawaii. Unfortunately many end up as fatalities. (credit: Kjell Linder/Getty Images)

Thanks to the pandemic, Americans drove 13 percent fewer miles in 2020 than they did the year before. But the move to telework and lockdowns has not made our roads any safer. In fact, our roads got a lot more dangerous last year, according to preliminary data collected by the National Safety Council. The council estimates that 42,060 people were killed in crashes, an 8 percent increase from 2019. The rise looks even more shocking when normalized—it rose from 1.2 to 1.49 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, a 24 percent increase.

The National Safety Council also estimates that just under 4.8 million people were injured seriously enough in road crashes to seek medical help for nonfatal injuries. The cost of all this carnage? A whopping $474.4 billion in deaths, injuries, and property damage.

Some states fared better than others. Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Wyoming all saw a drop in road deaths, although for some this was less than 5 percent.

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Valve scraps revamped Artifact, dumps free, unfinished “2.0” version on Steam

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 3:20pm
Two posters, two free end-of-life games.

Enlarge / Two posters, two free end-of-life games. (credit: Valve)

The weird, woeful, and nearly redemptive development of Valve's digital card game Artifact has ended. Effective today, Valve has launched the 2018 game's total-overhaul "2.0" version as a completely free—and "unfinished"—card-battling game dubbed Artifact Foundry, and while it's playable, it's effectively dead on arrival.

That means the game (formerly known as Artifact 2.0) no longer requires signing up for a closed beta—and is immediately available for anyone to download and play with zero microtransactions or restrictions on ownership. The apparent catch is that this near-total overhaul of the original game's ruleset and card abilities will not receive a single substantial update going forward. While Valve admits that Artifact Foundry could still use more "polish and art," its devs insist that "the core gameplay is all there."

Additionally, the game's original version has been left as a playable option, in case you preferred its specific spin on Magic: The Gathering-like card combat. The biggest change is that it has been updated to remove all microtransactions, while anyone who paid for the original game or its cards has been given a curious perk: a series of "Collector's Edition" cards, which can now only be traded and sold for real-world money within the Steam Marketplace ecosystem. Within the game itself, "marketplace integration" has been removed, since the original concept of buying blind card decks has been nuked from orbit. Every card in Artifact 1.0 is now free and instantly doled out to players.

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Self-driving startups are becoming an endangered species

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 3:10pm
A Voyage vehicle at the Villages in Florida.

Enlarge / A Voyage vehicle at the Villages in Florida. (credit: Voyage)

Bloomberg reports that Cruise, a self-driving company jointly owned by GM and Honda, is in talks to acquire the startup Voyage. Founded four years ago, Voyage is working to launch a self-driving taxi service at the Villages, a massive retirement community in Florida.

Bloomberg says that "no deal is imminent," and I don't have any inside information. But such a deal would be consistent with an ongoing trend: it's becoming harder and harder for self-driving startups to remain independent.

Voyage was part of a wave of self-driving startups that were founded between 2013 and 2018. Cruise itself was one of the earliest of these companies; it was co-founded in 2013 by its current CTO Kyle Vogt. Others included nuTonomy in 2013, Zoox in 2014, Drive.ai, Optimus Ride, and TuSimple in 2015, Starsky Robotics, Nuro and Udelv in 2016, Voyage, Aurora, and May Mobility in 2017, and Ike and Kodiak Robotics in 2018.

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