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: 18 min 25 sec ago

Metroid Dread developer leaves names out of credits, ex-staffers say

Fri, 10/15/2021 - 3:15am
Promotional image for video game Metroid Dread.

Enlarge (credit: Nintendo)

Metroid Dread developer MercurySteam has been criticized by multiple former members of the company whose names were left out of the credits, the ex-staffers say.

Speaking to the Spanish outlet Vandal, several former employees who contributed to Dread's development—which was handled primarily by the Madrid-based studio with nominal oversight from Nintendo EPD in Japan—said they were not acknowledged for their efforts despite working on the game for months. The outlet also confirmed a company policy at MercurySteam that stipulates any employee must work on at least 25 percent of a project's total development to be included in its credits.

"The policy of the studio requires that anyone must work on the project at least 25% of the time, of the total development of the game, to appear in the final credits," a studio representative said in an email to Vandal (via our google translated-script). "Of course, exceptions are sometimes made when making exceptional contributions." Sources in the story put the game's total development time at between three to four years.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Seminal Michael Faraday paper digitally stored in fluorescent dyes

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 2:49pm

Harvard researchers have developed a data-storage approach based on mixtures of fluorescent dyes that are printed onto an epoxy surface in tiny spots. The mixture of dyes at each spot encodes information that is then read with a fluorescent microscope.

Optical disks, flash drives, and magnetic hard disk drives can only store digital information for a few decades, and they tend to require a lot of energy to maintain, making these methods less than ideal for long-term data storage. So researchers have been looking into using molecules as alternatives, most notably in DNA data storage. Those methods come with their own challenges, however, including high synthesis costs and slow read and write rates.

Now, Harvard University scientists have figured out how to use fluorescent dyes as bits for a cheaper, faster means of data storage, according to a new paper published in the journal ACS Central Science. The researchers tested their method by storing one of 19th-century physicist Michael Faraday's seminal papers on electromagnetism and chemistry, as well as a JPEG image of Faraday.

"This method could provide access to archival data storage at a low cost," said co-author Amit A. Nagarkar, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral fellow in George Whitesides' Harvard lab. “[It] provides access to long-term data storage using existing commercial technologies—inkjet printing and fluorescence microscopy.” Nagarkar is now working for a startup company that wants to commercialize the method.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

FDA advisors unanimously green-light Moderna boosters for people 65+, high-risk

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 2:09pm
Words and symbols adorn a large outdoor sign.

Enlarge / The Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Maryland. (credit: Getty | Congressional Quarterly)

As expected, a committee of independent advisors for the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously (19-to-0) Thursday afternoon in favor of authorizing a booster dose of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for certain groups.

The groups flagged for boosting are individuals aged 65 and older, people ages 18 to 64 who are at risk of severe COVID-19 due to health concerns, and those 18 to 64 who are at risk of COVID-19 due to frequent institutional or occupational exposures, such as health care and essential workers. These are the same groups that were previously authorized to get a Pfizer/BioNTech booster.

As with the Pfizer/BioNTech boosters, the Moderna boosters are to be given six months or longer after the first two doses of Moderna's mRNA vaccine.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Missouri gov. calls journalist who found security flaw a “hacker,” threatens to sue

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 1:39pm
Gov. Mike Parson standing in front of a podium at a press conference.

Enlarge / Gov. Mike Parson at a press conference on May 29, 2019, in Jefferson City, Missouri. (credit: Getty Images | Jacob Moscovitch )

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson today threatened to prosecute and seek civil damages from a St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalist who identified a security flaw that exposed the Social Security numbers of teachers and other school employees, claiming that the journalist is a "hacker" and that the newspaper's reporting was nothing more than a "political vendetta" and "an attempt to embarrass the state and sell headlines for their news outlet." The Republican governor also vowed to hold the Post-Dispatch "accountable" for the supposed crime of helping the state find and fix a security vulnerability that could have harmed teachers.

Despite Parson's surprising description of a security report that normally wouldn't be particularly controversial, it appears that the Post-Dispatch handled the problem in a way that prevented harm to school employees while encouraging the state to close what one security professor called a "mind-boggling" vulnerability. Josh Renaud, a Post-Dispatch web developer who also writes articles, wrote in a report published yesterday that more than 100,000 Social Security numbers were vulnerable "in a web application that allowed the public to search teacher certifications and credentials." The Social Security numbers of school administrators and counselors were also vulnerable.

"Though no private information was clearly visible nor searchable on any of the web pages, the newspaper found that teachers' Social Security numbers were contained in the HTML source code of the pages involved," the report said.

Read 31 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Tile’s 2022 lineup has longer battery life, longer range, and a UWB model

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 12:51pm
 The Tile Pro, another Tile Pro, the credit card-style Tile Slim, Two Tile Mates, and the tiny Tile Sticker.

Enlarge / OK from left to right, we've got: The Tile Pro, another Tile Pro, the credit card-style Tile Slim, Two Tile Mates, and the tiny Tile Sticker. (credit: Tile)

It seems like everybody has been invading Tile's turf recently, from Apple with its AirTags to Samsung and its SmartTags. Tile isn't going to take it lying down, though, and has introduced a refreshed lineup of Bluetooth tracker products that help you find your stuff. Tile's advantage over its Big Tech rivals is that it has the only platform-agnostic product line. So if you're not exclusively in Apple's or Samsung's ecosystem and are always losing your car keys, Tile is worth looking at.

The $34.99 Tile Pro, Tile's one product with a user-replaceable battery, has a new, longer design that Tile says is modeled after a key fob. With more space, you get a better speaker and a 400-foot Bluetooth range. It still takes a CR2032 battery (aka a BIOS battery) that Tile says should last for a year.

The other Tile products have permanent batteries that Tile says should last for three years. After that, you'll need to replace the trackers. There's the $24.99 Tile Mate (Tile's cheaper key-chain tracker), the $34.99 Tile Slim (a tracker shaped like a credit card for your wallet), and the $29.99 Tile Sticker (a small plastic circle with sticky tape) for items where a loop connector isn't viable. The range of these three items has been upgraded to 250 feet, which Tile says is "an increase of 25% for Mate and Slim and a 67% increase for Sticker." Every new tracker, including the Pro, has IP67 dust and water resistance, so they should survive being submerged in a meter of water for 30 minutes.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Activision claims Call of Duty’s new anti-cheat system won’t look at your files

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 11:14am
Activision claims Call of Duty’s new anti-cheat system won’t look at your files

Enlarge

Call of Duty's comprehensive new anti-cheat system includes a potential olive branch for security-conscious players: It can't access your PC's private files—or so publisher Activision claims.

Announced Wednesday via the Call of Duty blog, the developers' new suite of cheat-deterrent tools (called the Ricochet Anti-Cheat initiative) includes a kernel-level driver for PC that the publisher is claiming will only run when a Call of Duty game is active, as well as a host of server-side tools that the Call of Duty security team will use to monitor player behavior and respond accordingly. The Ricochet system will be required to play Call of Duty: Warzone and the upcoming WWII-based Call of Duty: Vanguard once the software is implemented in each game.

Assuming the publisher's claims are true, the kernel driver—slated to be added to Warzone later this yearonly performs active checks on software that tries to interact with or otherwise change its files when the game application is open and will turn off when players close out. Data from the driver will be used to analyze suspicious behavior and "assist in the identification of cheaters, reinforcing and strengthening the overall server security," the blog says.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Passengers couldn’t fly after NHS vaccine passport went offline

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 11:04am
Passengers couldn’t fly after NHS vaccine passport went offline

Enlarge (credit: VOO QQQ)

England's COVID Pass system went offline for hours on Wednesday, causing British travelers to remain stranded at airports. Some passengers couldn't board their flights, while others suffered delays as both the National Health Service (NHS) website and app experienced issues.

Delays and missed flights

An NHS system outage lasting approximately four hours left many British travelers unable to access their vaccination records and present their COVID Pass to the airlines. Prior to letting passengers board, most airlines in the UK require proof of vaccination in printed or digital form. But those without a paper copy were left in limbo as the NHS smartphone app kept throwing up errors.

Journalist Caroline Frost, who is vaccinated, is one of the many passengers who had a hard time getting by at the airport:

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Biden administration plans for offshore wind everywhere

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 10:41am
Image of a construction platform above the waves amidst wind turbines.

Enlarge / An offshore wind farm under construction. (credit: Charlie Chesvick/Getty Images)

Shortly after taking office, President Joe Biden announced a major effort to jump-start the offshore wind industry in the US, with the stated goal of going from roughly zero to 30 GW of capacity before the decade is over. To that end, the Biden administration has given final approval to Vineyard Wind near Massachusetts and has been involved with three large wind projects that will be sited off New Jersey.

But even with the massive size of those projects, the US would be left with about 4 GW of offshore wind—nowhere close to the 30 GW goal. So on Wednesday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland laid out an ambitious roadmap that will see all coastal areas of the contiguous 48 states evaluated for leasing, with lease deals being completed before the end of Biden's term in 2024.

A multi-year process

At the federal level, the leasing process is far more involved than simply finding a site that has strong, consistent winds. Federal regulators have to consider environmental impacts, conflicts with other users, damage to historical sites, and the needs of any Native American groups in the area, among other factors. It's only after these hurdles are overcome that the lease sale can begin.

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Alexa and Airplay 2 find $800, airship-shaped home in Bowers & Wilkins smart speaker

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 9:41am
Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin in midnight grey. on wood table

Enlarge / Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin in midnight gray. (credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

England-based audio brand Bowers & Wilkins is offering audiophiles another ride on its Zeppelin, but this time, there's a new friend on board. The Zeppelin speaker that was announced on Wednesday marks the first new addition to the series since 2015. It's flying into the new age by integrating Amazon Alexa and some newer technologies for reducing wireless latency.

Bowers & Wilkins' Formation series of wireless speakers got Alexa in 2020, but this is the first time the smart assistant gets a ticket for the Zeppelin. For those who would prefer not to speak to Alexa, the speaker has physical buttons, too.

The latest Zeppelin continues the series' flight toward going completely wireless. Bowers & Wilkins' original Zeppelin in 2007 was an iPod dock, while the 2011 Zeppelin Air still had a dock but added Apple Airplay. In 2015, the Zeppelin Wireless dropped the dock but offered a 3.5 mm connection. Today's Zeppelin has no wired option, except for a USB-C port that's for service only.

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PowerPC fork of Firefox that lasted for over a decade has reached the end of the road

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 8:51am
An old PowerBook G4 running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Microsoft Word 2008, and the TenFourFox browser.

Enlarge / An old PowerBook G4 running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Microsoft Word 2008, and the TenFourFox browser. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

It has been well over a decade since PowerPC Macs roamed the earth—so long that the Intel Macs that replaced them are themselves being replaced by something else. But to this day, there's a small community of people still developing software for PowerPC Macs and Mac OS 9.

One of those projects was TenFourFox, a fork of the Firefox browser for G3, G4, and G5-based PowerPC Macs running Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5. Maintained primarily by Cameron Kaiser, the TenFourFox project sprang up in late 2010 after Mozilla pulled PowerPC support from Firefox 4 during its development. And amazingly, the browser has continued to trundle on ever since.

But continuing to backport Firefox features to aging, stuck-in-time PowerPC processors only got more difficult as time went on. And in March of this year, Kaiser announced that TenFourFox updates would be ending after over a decade of development. The final planned release of TenFourFox was earlier this month.

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Holmes used fake pharma reports to sell Theranos tech to Walgreens, prosecution says

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 8:31am
Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.

Enlarge / Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. (credit: Getty | Gilbert Carrasquillo)

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes gave Walgreens executives fake reports from major pharmaceutical companies to lend credibility to her company's ill-fated blood diagnostic devices.

The bombshell came during the prosecution’s questioning of former Walgreens CFO Wade Miquelon. Holmes is on trial for 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Partly on the strength of those reports, Walgreens would go on to make a $140 million deal with Holmes’ startup $100 million as an “innovation fee,” and $40 million as convertible notes that could be converted into equity.

“Our common understanding was the technology worked as we were told,” Miquelon told jurors. He said his company had also spoken with doctors and other experts at Johns Hopkins who said Theranos’ technology was sound and would be useful in clinics like the kind Walgreens envisioned. However, Walgreens executives weren't able to validate the device first-hand—Theranos took it back before they had the chance.

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Storm brews over 46x price markup of Merck’s Thor-inspired COVID pill

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 8:04am
Merck & Co. headquarters in San Francisco, California.

Enlarge / Merck & Co. headquarters in San Francisco, California. (credit: Getty | Sundry Photography)

A storm is brewing over the pricing and licensing of Merck's antiviral pill molnupiravir, which the pharmaceutical giant says can halve the risk of hospitalization and death in high-risk COVID-19 patients.

Merck's advance purchase agreement with the US government pegs the price of a five-day treatment at about $700. But an independent analysis by public health researchers at Harvard estimated that a sustainable generic price—with a 10 percent profit margin built in—would be just $20 per treatment. Further, rival generic manufacturers in India are already expected to offer the drug at $15 or less for a treatment once it's authorized for use.

Given that, the $700 price tag in the US represents a 46-fold markup of the drug, which is named after Thor's hammer, Mjölnir.

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Vive Flow is HTC’s newest “all-in-one” VR headset, coming October 15 for $499

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 8:00am

After a few ho-hum announcements earlier this year, HTC's virtual reality division has returned with arguably its boldest (and most mysterious) product launch yet: the HTC Vive Flow.

The new headset, whose basic concept leaked on Tuesday via a massive Twitter image dump, will be available for preorder at some point today (perhaps right now, as this story goes live) for $499. Unlike HTC's Vive Pro line, this new VR headset does not appear to prioritize gaming or other higher-fidelity use cases.

Instead, this all-in-one headset—whose massive, outward-facing lenses resemble something from a Venture Bros. henchman's outfit—appears to have casual users in mind. Today's announcement highlights apps that focus on "meditation," "brain training," and "collaborating and socializing," and the latter example requires using HTC's own Vive Sync virtual conferencing software. Additionally, promotional materials provided to Ars ahead of today's reveal mention simple VR games for the platform, like Space Slurpies. (No, I never thought I'd type the words "space slurpies" in an Ars article, either.) The headset does not currently include any way to connect to gaming-grade computers, either wired or wireless, to run higher-fidelity VR experiences.

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Verizon’s Visible cell customers hacked, leading to unauthorized purchases

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 5:40am
Verizon’s Visible cell customers hacked, leading to unauthorized purchases

Enlarge (credit: Steve Halama)

Numerous Visible Wireless subscribers are reporting that their accounts were hacked this week. Visible runs on Verizon's 5G and 4G LTE networks and is owned by Verizon.

Suspicions of a data breach at Visible started Monday when some customers saw unauthorized purchases on their accounts:

@Visible I was just hacked! They sent themselves a phone and changed my address! Urgent!’ How do i@stop this!!!! HURRY!!

— Kelley (@ksmrz77) October 12, 2021

On the Visible subreddit, users reported seeing unauthorized orders placed from their accounts:

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“Hacker X”—the American who built a pro-Trump fake news empire—unmasks himself

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 5:00am
A shadowy figure holds a mask of Donald Trump.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

This is the story of the mastermind behind one of the largest "fake news" operations in the US.

For two years, he ran websites and Facebook groups that spread bogus stories, conspiracy theories, and propaganda. Under him was a dedicated team of writers and editors paid to produce deceptive content—from outright hoaxes to political propaganda—with the supreme goal of tipping the 2016 election to Donald Trump.

Through extensive efforts, he built a secret network of self-reinforcing sites from the ground up. He devised a strategy that got prominent personalities—including Trump—to retweet misleading claims to their followers. And he fooled unwary American citizens, including the hacker's own father, into regarding fake news sources more highly than the mainstream media.

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How a mass extinction resulted in the rise of the snakes

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 3:45am
Image of a snake on a branch.

Enlarge / Today's diverse snake populations may trace back to a single ancestral species that survived the dinosaur-killing mass extinction. (credit: Alan Tunnicliffe Photography / Getty Images)

The doom of the dinosaurs was good news for snakes. According to new research, snake biodiversity began increasing shortly after the Cretaceous–Paleogene mass extinction—you know, the one brought about by a huge asteroid impact 66 million years ago. The asteroid caused around 75 percent of all species, and all of the non-avian dinosaurs, to go extinct.

But the impact gave primordial snake species opportunity and space to flourish, and they did. Currently, there are around 4,000 species of the elongated, legless reptiles. To study this evolutionary change, a team of researchers examined the diets of existing snake species to get a glimpse into the past. “After the K–Pg extinction, [snakes] just underwent this massive ecological explosion,” Michael Grundler, one of the paper’s authors and a post-doc researcher at the University of California Los Angeles, told Ars.

Rare fossils

As it turns out, snake fossils are hard to come by. It’s rare to find any great snake because their bodies are loosely articulated and can fragment quickly. “They’re really rare in the fossil record. And when we do see them in the fossil record, it’s usually just a bit of vertebrae, often not really a skull, so we can’t get a sense of their ecology,” Grundler said. “It’s not something like a big mammal or a big dinosaur that has four limbs and the bones are pretty robust. With snakes, you have all these fragile vertebrae... their skull is pretty loosely articulated as well.”

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Mix-and-match COVID boosters are as good as—if not better than—all the same shots

Wed, 10/13/2021 - 4:39pm
Extreme close-up photo of a gloved hand holding a tiny jar.

Enlarge / A vial of the current Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (credit: Getty | Ivan Romano)

Mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines for booster doses appears safe and as effective—if not more effective—than sticking with the same vaccine for a booster dose. That's according to preliminary data posted online Wednesday from a clinical trial run by the National Institutes of Health.

The trial bolsters what some have long hoped: that mixing and matching vaccines could provide stronger, broader protection against the pandemic virus and all its variants.

The trial was not large enough to definitively indicate which combination of vaccines offers the best protection. And the early results, available on a preprint server, have not yet been peer-reviewed. But the preliminary trial findings do hint that Moderna's mRNA vaccine may offer the strongest protection all around—backing up similar findings from earlier vaccine-effectiveness studies. The data also suggests that people who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine may want to get a boost with one of the two mRNA vaccines, either Moderna's or Pfizer/BioNTech's.

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Conservative media viewing correlates with intention to use ivermectin

Wed, 10/13/2021 - 4:19pm
Image of a person gesturing while speaking.

Enlarge / Whether you trust this man likely depends on whether you watch right-wing news. (credit: Getty Images)

The US public's response to the pandemic has been chaotic. Some people have observed strict social distancing, happily went into lockdown when case counts got high, and got a vaccine as soon as it became available. Others were nearly the opposite, protesting any public health measures and refusing the vaccine. And a whole lot of the population ended up somewhere between the two extremes.

Obviously, for a complex response like that, multiple factors are probably in play, untangling them can be difficult. For example, conservatives in the US have received anti-vaccine messages from their political leaders, but that's coming on top of a long-term trend of mistrust toward scientific information.

This week, however, a bit of data has come out that does a fairly good job of untangling those complications. One study indicates that skepticism toward scientific information appears to be linked to whether people followed lockdown instructions from health authorities. And a survey indicates that people are more likely to try untested "cures" for COVID-19 if they watch right-wing news sources.

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Ted Cruz says bitcoin will stabilize Texas electric grid—here’s why he’s wrong

Wed, 10/13/2021 - 1:29pm
A man in a open-collared shirt addresses a crowd with a mic.

Enlarge / Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. (credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thinks he has found a way to stabilize Texas’ electric grid in case another deep freeze hits the state. He wants to use the power of bitcoin.

“Because of the ability of bitcoin mining to turn on or off instantaneously, if you have a moment where you have a power shortage or a power crisis, whether it’s a freeze or some other natural disaster where power generation capacity goes down, that creates the capacity to instantaneously shift that energy to put it back on the grid,” Cruz told the Texas Blockchain Summit last week.

There are a few reasons why what he said doesn’t add up. But let’s start with his assumptions. First, large bitcoin-mining operations use hundreds or thousands of powerful computers, which create a demand for power. If power plants can profitably mine bitcoin using the electricity they generate—and there are examples of that already—it stands to reason that bitcoin mining could create enough demand that investors would be enticed to build new power plants. Those plants could theoretically be tasked with providing power to the grid in cases of emergency.

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IBM and airlines won’t comply with Texas governor’s ban on vaccine mandates

Wed, 10/13/2021 - 10:07am
An American Airlines plane landing on a runway at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Enlarge / An American Airlines Boeing 787 lands at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. (credit: Getty Images | Joshua Olson)

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines said they will not comply with the Texas governor's ban on vaccine mandates, saying that the US vaccine mandate for federal contractors takes precedence. Both airlines are headquartered in Texas.

"We are reviewing the executive order issued by Gov. Abbott, but we believe the federal vaccine mandate supersedes any conflicting state laws, and this does not change anything for American," an American Airlines spokesperson told The Washington Post and other news organizations. Southwest said that "according to the president's executive order, federal action supersedes any state mandate or law, and we would be expected to comply with the president's order to remain compliant as a federal contractor," according to CNBC.

IBM, which is based in New York but has several large offices in Texas, will also follow the federal order instead of the one in Texas. "IBM is a federal contractor and must comply with federal requirements, which direct employees of federal contractors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8th or obtain a medical or religious accommodation," IBM told Bloomberg. "We will continue to protect the health and safety of IBM employees and clients, and we will continue to follow federal requirements."

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