Feed aggregator

  • 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.

Apple clarifies iOS default music app feature, and it’s not what people thought

ArsTechnica - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 2:17pm
Siri in iOS 14.

Enlarge / Siri in iOS 14. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Over the past few weeks, there have been several reports (including one of our own) on a feature found in recent beta releases of iOS 14.5 that appeared to allow users to change the default music app on their iPhones. However, Apple just clarified to TechCrunch that the feature is not as it first seemed.

In the initial reports, users claimed that they were prompted to select a preferred music app, such as Spotify or Apple Music, when they asked Siri to play a song. They then found that Siri seemed to honor that choice on future requests.

Further, those users noticed that the usual command of "Hey Siri, play [song name] on Spotify" would cause Siri to use Spotify again in the future when they spoke the same request sans the "on Spotify" part. (In the current public version of iOS, users must say "on Spotify" every single time to play songs in that app instead of Apple Music.)

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Arizona House advances bill targeting Apple, Google mobile app stores

ArsTechnica - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 2:10pm
A cactus-flanked building combines neoclassical and hacienda architecture.

Enlarge / The Arizona State Capitol museum, flanked by the House of Representatives building (R) and a cactus (L). (credit: mixmotive | Getty Images)

The Arizona state House of Representatives this week passed a landmark bill that, if adopted, would require Google and Apple to allow Arizona-based app developers to choose their own alternate payment systems.

The House voted 31-29 in favor of the bill (PDF). The bill does not directly mention either major mobile platform, but it nonetheless squarely targets both, as the text specifically applies to any "digital application distribution platform" that has more than 1 million cumulative downloads in a calendar year from Arizona users.

The text prohibits those platforms from locking either Arizona-based developers or Arizona-based users into using proprietary first-party in-app payment systems. It also prohibits platforms from retaliating against Arizona consumers or developers for opting into using a payment system "that is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with the provider."

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Grab a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller for $10 off today

ArsTechnica - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 1:58pm
Grab a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller for $10 off today

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a nifty $10 discount on Nintendo's Switch Pro Controller, as the gamepad is currently available for $59 at various retailers. Though we've seen the controller drop as low as $50 in the past, deals on the Switch Pro pad are generally rare, and this deal matches the lowest price we've tracked in the past year. Nintendo normally sells the device for $70.

We've previously recommended the Switch Pro Controller in our guide to the best Nintendo Switch accessories. It's only worth buying if you regularly dock your Switch up to a TV, but if that's the case, it will provide a significant comfort upgrade over Nintendo's default Joy-Con controllers. The shape is roomier and easier to grip, the buttons are larger and provide a more satisfying sense of feedback, there's a genuine d-pad, and the whole thing gets an excellent 35-40 hours of battery life per charge. It keeps the same motion control and Amiibo scanning features, too, and it can be used with Steam on the PC if needed. (Though its lack of pressure-sensitive analog triggers could present issues there.) If you've ever used an Xbox controller, it should feel immediately familiar.

If you're all set on the Switch front, we also have discounts on good USB-C chargers, Bose noise-canceling headphones, our 2020 game of the year Hades, and much more. You can check out our full deals roundup below.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Bitflips when PCs try to reach windows.com: What could possibly go wrong?

ArsTechnica - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 1:20pm
Stock photo of ones and zeros displayed across a computer screen.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Bitflips are events that cause individual bits stored in an electronic device to flip, turning a 0 to a 1 or vice versa. Cosmic radiation and fluctuations in power or temperature are the most common naturally occurring causes. Research from 2010 estimated that a computer with 4GB of commodity RAM has a 96 percent chance of experiencing a bitflip within three days.

An independent researcher recently demonstrated how bitflips can come back to bite Windows users when their PCs reach out to Microsoft’s windows.com domain. Windows devices do this regularly to perform actions like making sure the time shown in the computer clock is accurate, connecting to Microsoft’s cloud-based services, and recovering from crashes.

Remy, as the researcher asked to be referred to, mapped the 32 valid domain names that were one bitflip away from windows.com. He provided the following to help readers understand how these flips can cause the domain to change to whndows.com:

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

100Mbps uploads and downloads should be US broadband standard, senators say

ArsTechnica - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 12:42pm
Illustration of fiber-optic cables.

Enlarge / Illustration of fiber-optic cables. (credit: Getty Images | Tetra Images)

Four US senators called on the Biden administration Thursday to establish a "21st century definition of high-speed broadband" of 100Mbps both upstream and downstream. This would be a big upgrade over the Federal Communications Commission broadband standard of 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream, which was established in 2015 and never updated by former President Trump's FCC chair, Ajit Pai.

Today's letter was sent to FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and other federal officials by two Democrats, one independent who caucuses with Democrats, and one Republican. Noting that "the pandemic has reinforced the importance of high-speed broadband and underscored the cost of the persistent digital divide in our country," they wrote:

Going forward, we should make every effort to spend limited federal dollars on broadband networks capable of providing sufficient download and upload speeds and quality, including low latency, high reliability, and low network jitter, for modern and emerging uses, like two-way videoconferencing, telehealth, remote learning, health IoT, and smart grid applications. Our goal for new deployment should be symmetrical speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps), allowing for limited variation when dictated by geography, topography, or unreasonable cost.

"We should also insist that new networks supported with federal funds meet this higher standard, with limited exceptions for truly hard-to-reach locations," the senators wrote later in the letter. "For years, we have seen billions in taxpayer dollars subsidize network deployments that are outdated as soon as they are complete, lacking in capacity and failing to replace inadequate broadband infrastructure."

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Realme GT 5G is the world’s cheapest Snapdragon 888 phone

ArsTechnica - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 10:51am

It's time for a yearly reminder of how much better the smartphone market is when you live in a hyper-competitive area like India or China. The new Realme GT 5G is now the world's cheapest Snapdragon 888 smartphone, sporting nearly everything you would expect from a ~$1,000 flagship smartphone, for the low price of CNY 2,799, or ~$433. Naturally, the phone is for sale only in China right now.

The specs here look fantastic for the price: a 120 Hz, 6.43-inch, 2400×1080 Samsung OLED panel; a Snapdragon 88 SoC; 8GB of RAM; 128GB of UFS; a 4500 mAh battery; 65 W wired fast charging; an under-screen fingerprint reader; NFC; a USB-C slot; and a headphone jack. There's also a higher-tier version with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for CNY 3,299, or ~$510. The OS is Android 11 with a "Realme UI 2.0" skin. If you really want to pick nits, there are some cut corners here, like the lack of wireless charging and water resistance. For $430, though, this is a spectacular package.

Realme is playing some games with the pricing. The $430 and $510 price tags are "first sale" prices. At some point in the future, they will go up to CNY 2,899 (~$448) and CNY 3,399 (~$525). That still makes this the cheapest Snapdragon 888 phone on the market, but slightly less cheap.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

SpaceX Starlink factory in Texas will speed up production of Dishy McFlatface

ArsTechnica - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 9:47am
View of the SpaceX Starlink satellite dish, with the back panel taken off.

Enlarge / The SpaceX Starlink satellite dish partway through a teardown. (credit: Ken Keither)

SpaceX says it is building a factory in Austin, Texas, to design systems that will help make satellite dishes, Wi-Fi routers, and other equipment for its Starlink satellite broadband network. The news comes from a job posting for an automation and controls engineer position flagged in a story Tuesday by local news channel KXAN.

"To keep up with global demand, SpaceX is breaking ground on a new, state of the art manufacturing facility in Austin, TX," the job posting said. "The Automation & Controls Engineer will play a key role as we strive to manufacture millions of consumer facing devices that we ship directly to customers (Starlink dishes, Wi-Fi routers, mounting hardware, etc)."

The factory apparently won't make the dishes and routers on site but will instead design systems that improve the manufacturing process. "Specifically, they will design and develop control systems and software for production line machinery—ultimately tackling the toughest mechanical, software, and electrical challenges that come with high-volume manufacturing, all while maintaining a focus on flexibility, reliability, maintainability, and ease of use," the job posting said.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Loop Hero review: I’ve somehow gotten hooked on an RPG that plays itself

ArsTechnica - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 9:00am
 I’ve somehow gotten hooked on an RPG that plays itself

Enlarge (credit: Devolver Digital / Four Quarters)

I cannot think of a single YouTube trailer that would do the addictive, compelling new video game Loop Hero an iota of justice. That's not a remark on its 360p resolution or 8-bit color depth; we've seen plenty of games work within such confines while looking beautiful and fluid. But this dark RPG doubles down on simplicity, thanks to itty-bitty sprites, limited animations, and a menu-swapping interface that combine to scream the word "boring."

The game includes some aesthetic exceptions, particularly a few higher-res illustrations, but the point stands. Loop Hero was made to work within the processing confines of an '80s PC, as opposed to immediately capturing your imagination at a single glance. The reason lies in the game's key design principle: in more respects than any other RPG we've seen, Loop Hero wrests direct control away from the player. If you thought the menu-driven combat of pioneering JRPGs was too "hands-on," you ain't seen nothin'.

In a figurative sense, this game reimagines Camelot as a hamster wheel, where knights like Sir Galahad have become tiny, pixellated cogs. Yet as boring as that might sound, I cannot stop playing this game.

After nearly writing off this Devolver Digital game as another uninspired, lo-fi indie game, I decided—admittedly, upon a colleague's prodding—to give Loop Hero a spin. Pretty quickly, I discovered a fascinating twist on the "idle" genre—thanks to how it gives players significant choices, secrets, upgrades, and even a compelling narrative. The results won't be everyone's cup of barely interactive tea, but if you like the idea of a "second monitor" game with tasteful dashes of tower defense and deckbuilding, you should seriously consider running Loop Hero in the background of your nerdy life.

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Starship goes up. Starship goes down. But is the program moving forward?

ArsTechnica - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 7:20pm

So what, exactly, are we to make of the third flight of a full-scale Starship prototype?

If nothing else, Wednesday afternoon's flight provided several minutes of first-rate entertainment: rocket ship goes up. Rocket ship comes down. Rocket ship lands. And then, with an incredible plot twist 10 minutes later, rocket ship briefly ascends again and then blows up.

It all looked remarkable. Like many of the most inspiring things SpaceX has accomplished over the last decade, this launch, landing, and subsequent explosion looked almost otherworldly. It felt like a peek into the future, a glimpse of something yet unseen, that might yet be.

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New Nintendo Switch production to begin in June, will be 4K when docked

ArsTechnica - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 7:10pm
a Nintendo Switch (M) surrounded by a NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) Classic Mini (L) and a SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) Classic Mini (R) video game consoles.

Enlarge (credit: Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Nintendo's next Switch hardware revision has long been rumored, but details on what to expect from a possible "Switch Pro" finally began firming up on Wednesday, thanks to an apparent leak from its screen supplier.

Bloomberg Japan has the scoop, and it points to Samsung as the source of Switch's next panel type: a 7-inch OLED panel, currently estimated at 720p resolution. That Samsung OLED production line will begin cranking in June, according to Bloomberg's unnamed sources familiar with "internal matters." Meanwhile, other Nintendo hardware assemblers will begin receiving the panels "around July."

For sizing comparisons, the current standard Nintendo Switch uses a 6.2-inch 720p LED panel, while 2019's Nintendo Switch Lite shrank its LED panel to 5.5 inches (but is also 720p in resolution).

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Researchers build a swimming robot that works in the Mariana Trench

ArsTechnica - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 4:38pm
Researchers build a swimming robot that works in the Mariana Trench

Enlarge (credit: NPG Press)

Remotely operated vehicles have changed how we explore and exploit the ocean. They can operate for far longer than human-occupied vehicles, go into areas where risk would dictate people avoid, and reach depths where very few craft can take a human. But even so, a lot of the hardware gets taken up by an enclosure that's capable of protecting things like batteries and electronics from the pressures of the deep.

But that may not be entirely necessary, based on a report in today's Nature. In it, a team of Chinese researchers describe adapting hardware so that it could operate a soft-bodied robot in the deep ocean. The researchers then gave the robot a ride 10 kilometers down in the Mariana Trench and showed that it worked.

Going soft

Mention robots, and for many people, the first thing that comes to mind are the collections of metal and cabling that make up things like the dancing Atlases from Boston Dynamics. But over the last decade, plenty of researchers have demonstrated that all that rigid hardware isn't strictly necessary. Soft-bodied robots work, too, and can do interesting things like squeeze through tight spaces or incorporate living cells into their structure.

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Facebook lifts ban on US political advertising

ArsTechnica - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 4:05pm
Facebook lifts ban on US political advertising

Enlarge (credit: KJ Parish)

Facebook will lift a ban on political advertising imposed after the US election to curb the spread of misinformation, and it has pledged to investigate whether its political ads systems need a further overhaul.

Advertisers would be able to resume running political ads on March 4, Facebook said in a blog post on Wednesday. It said it had introduced the temporary moratorium “to avoid confusion or abuse following Election Day.”

The social media company said it had received “feedback” about its ads system during the latest election cycle, including its inability to distinguish between ads from politicians and political groups and social issue ads from advocacy groups, for example.

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Google claims it will stop tracking individual users for ads

ArsTechnica - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 3:36pm
The word

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

As Google's plan to kill third-party tracking cookies ramps up, the company is answering questions about what will replace it. Many people have wondered: if Google kills cookies, won't the company just cook up some other method for individually tracking users?

Today, Google answered that concern in a post on its "Ads & Commerce" blog, pledging it won't come up with "any technology used for tracking individual people." The company wrote:

We continue to get questions about whether Google will join others in the ad tech industry who plan to replace third-party cookies with alternative user-level identifiers. Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.

You might look at that statement and think that Google is sacrificing something or turning over a new leaf when it comes to privacy, but really, Google doesn't need to track individuals for advertisements. Google's cookie-tracking replacement technology, the Chrome "Privacy Sandbox," uses group tracking, which is more in line with how advertisers think anyway.

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Comcast hides upload speeds deep inside its infuriating ordering system

ArsTechnica - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 3:09pm
An NBC peacock logo is on the loose and hiding behind the corner of a brick building.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Comcast just released a 2020 Network Performance Data report with stats on how much Internet usage rose during the pandemic, and it said that upload use is growing faster than download use. "Peak downstream traffic in 2020 increased approximately 38 percent over 2019 levels and peak upstream traffic increased approximately 56 percent over 2019 levels," Comcast said.

But while upload use on Comcast's network quickly grows—driven largely by videoconferencing among people working and learning at home—the nation's largest home-Internet provider with over 30 million customers advertises its speed tiers as if uploading doesn't exist. Comcast's 56 percent increase in upstream traffic made me wonder if the company will increase upload speeds any time soon, so I checked out Comcast's Xfinity.com site today to see the current upload speeds. Getting that information was even more difficult than I expected.

The Xfinity website advertises cable-Internet plans with download speeds starting at 25Mbps without mentioning that upstream speeds are just a fraction of the downstream ones. I went through Comcast's online ordering system today and found no mention of upload speeds anywhere. Even clicking "pricing & other info" and "view plan details" links to read the fine print on various Internet plans didn't reveal upload speeds.

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Parler sues Amazon (again), claims AWS ban sank a billion-dollar valuation

ArsTechnica - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 2:19pm
The bright screen of a notebook computer illuminates the face of the person using it.

Enlarge / A person browsing Parler in early January, before the site got into a fight with AWS. (credit: Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty Images)

Social media platform Parler has dropped a federal lawsuit alleging that Amazon colluded with Twitter to drive a rival offline—but in its place, the platform has filed a new state lawsuit alleging that Amazon deliberately tanked Parler's valuation.

Parler's new suit (PDF)—filed in King County, Washington, where Amazon is headquartered—argues mainly that Parler is no worse than the competition and that Amazon defamed and devalued it when AWS discontinued service.

The platform has been embroiled in legal battles with Amazon since January, when Amazon cut off Parler's AWS hosting in the wake of the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. Parler went offline shortly after and remained that way until mid-February.

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This startup has an intriguing concept for EV battery swaps

ArsTechnica - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 1:38pm

On Wednesday morning in San Francisco, a startup called Ample launched its new electric vehicle battery-swap technology. The company has designed an extremely small footprint for its swap stations, which only occupy as much ground as a couple standard parking spaces and don't need much in the way of electrical infrastructure. So instead of building one big location able to handle hundreds of cars a day, Ample's plan is to build numerous small stations, which can be deployed quickly. The first five of these are now operational in the Bay Area, servicing a fleet of Uber EVs equipped with Ample's modular battery system.

Faster than fast charging

Rightly or wrongly, charging times and charging infrastructure are probably the biggest stumbling blocks to widespread electric vehicle adoption. Since the creation of the first gas station in 1905, society has become accustomed to rapidly refueling with liquid hydrocarbons. As a result, no one minds if their V12-powered grand tourer can't make it 200 miles before stopping, since they know they'll only be stationary for a few minutes.

Battery EVs, on the other hand, need to be sold with as much battery as can be crammed underneath the cabin, and even the fastest-charging BEVs currently on sale still take more than 20 minutes to charge back to 80 percent—and even then only with 350 kW fast chargers that are still relatively uncommon.

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SpaceX recycling vehicle for second Starship launch attempt [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 1:30pm
Starship SN10 on the pad on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

Enlarge / Starship SN10 on the pad on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann / Ars Technica)

Update 3:45 pm EST: The SN10 Starship prototype very nearly launched on Wednesday afternoon from South Texas, but a last-second out-of-bounds reading aborted the attempt. The abort was caused by a "slightly conservative high thrust limit," SpaceX founder Elon Musk said afterward. Basically, the onboard flight computer received data from one of the engines that it was producing more thrust than anticipated.

The good news? This thrust limit can be adjusted upward in the flight software, and the vehicle is now recycling through propellant loading for another attempt. SN10 may still fly later today, time to be determined.

Original post 8:12 am EST: SpaceX may launch its third full-scale Starship prototype—named Serial Number 10, or SN10—as early as Wednesday from South Texas.

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EA confirms it isn’t secretly “fixing” FIFA matches

ArsTechnica - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 12:28pm
EA has convinced a set of class-action lawyers that there isn't a secret algorithm affecting the results for <em>FIFA</em> Ultimate Team squads like this one.

Enlarge / EA has convinced a set of class-action lawyers that there isn't a secret algorithm affecting the results for FIFA Ultimate Team squads like this one. (credit: Electronic Arts)

A group of California players has dropped a class-action lawsuit accusing Electronic Arts of secretly using a "Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment" (DDA) to covertly affect the outcome of FIFA: Ultimate Team matches. The group did so after EA proved that the controversial, patented system is not in use in the game.

We first covered EA's Dynamic Difficulty Adjustment system back in early 2018, after a late-2017 academic paper laid out the basic framework. That research found that automatically adjusting a match-three puzzle game's difficulty based on the player's demonstrated skill level led to a 9 percent "improvement in player engagement," (i.e., players wanted to play a bit more). On the other hand, it had a "neutral impact on monetization" (i.e., it didn't lead to players spending more money). EA filed for a patent on the same basic idea in 2016, and the patent was granted in 2018.

Some FIFA players have long suspected that patented technology was at work in at least some of their "Ultimate Team" games. To hear these players tell it, the game secretly uses a hidden, scripted "momentum" system to adjust the results of specific shots or touches based on the current state of the game. It's all part of an effort to manipulate players to spend more money on better Ultimate Team player cards, as outlined by that DDA patent. Or so the theory goes.

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CDC to release guide for life after vaccination—with normalcy still far off

ArsTechnica - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 11:36am
A woman in a suit speaks from a podium.

Enlarge / Dr. Rochelle Walensky, President Joe Biden’s pick to head the Centers for Disease Control. (credit: Getty | Chip Somodevilla)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to release guidance this week—possibly as early as Thursday—on activities that are considered safe for people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

But, while much of the country is hankering for some return of normalcy, the guidance is unlikely to deliver any satisfying taste of it. People who are fully vaccinated will be advised to continue adhering to most public health measures, such as mask wearing and physical distancing in most settings. Though they will get the greenlight for limited social gatherings, those should be kept small and home-based, and they should only include other fully vaccinated adults, according to early reports.

In a press conference Monday, top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci laid out an example:

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All US Apple stores are open for the first time in almost a year

ArsTechnica - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 11:24am
Masked people mill about the glass walls adorned with the Apple logo.

Enlarge / NEW YORK, June 17, 2020 - Staff workers serve customers outside an Apple store on Fifth Avenue. (credit: Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images)

For the first time in just a few days shy of a year, all Apple Store retail locations in the United States are open this week, reports 9to5Mac.

Apple first closed all retail locations outside of China on March 13, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company originally planned to reopen its stores by the end of that month, but history had other plans.

Apple has periodically reopened and reclosed certain locations in the United States and elsewhere based on local case levels and government guidance—for example, a major push was attempted to reopen on May 31 as the virus's spread slowed as a result of lockdown measures. But that was before COVID cases began rising sharply again. The last locations to reopen in the US this week were located in Texas.

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