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 '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.

This is what the Salisbury Plain looked like before Stonehenge

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 4:39pm
Stonehenge as viewed from the northeast

Enlarge / Stonehenge as viewed from the northeast, showing the post-and-lintel construction of the Sarsen Circle. (credit: Timothy Darvill)

Stonehenge was an important place for thousands of years before people placed the first stones, according to a recent study. Archaeologists used the microscopic remains of insects, pollen, fungal spores, and ancient DNA preserved in the soil to reconstruct the ancient environment of southwest England’s Salisbury Plain. The plain was a mosaic of open grassland and woods 6,000 years ago, and archaeological evidence there shows that people once hunted herds of extinct cattle called aurochs.

Samuel Hudson, an environmental scientist at the University of Southampton, and his colleagues say their findings suggest that many of the ceremonial sites and routes left behind by Britain’s earliest farmers—the builders of Stonehenge—may date back thousands of years to land used by the first occupiers of Britain after the end of the last Ice Age.

What happens when worlds collide?

About a mile away from Stonehenge lies an older, less famous archaeological site called Blick Mead. Here, the Salisbury Plain meets the floodplain of the River Avon. Stone tools (more than 100,000 of them), butchered animal bones, and charred fish bones show that people came to this place repeatedly for thousands of years during the Mesolithic period.

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Despite unknowns, FDA officials make the case for annual fall COVID shots

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 4:09pm
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research within the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on the federal coronavirus response on Capitol Hill on March 18, 2021, in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research within the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on the federal coronavirus response on Capitol Hill on March 18, 2021, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | Pool)

The pandemic coronavirus will likely become a seasonal respiratory virus, much like influenza, requiring annual booster shots each fall, according to three top officials at the US Food and Drug Administration.

In a commentary piece published this week in the medical journal JAMA, the officials make a case for seasonal shots and caution that preparation for this winter's potential surge needs to begin no later than next month.

"The timeframe to determine the composition of the COVID-19 vaccine for the 2022-2023 season, to use alongside the seasonal influenza vaccine for administration in the Northern Hemisphere beginning in about October, is compressed because of the time required for manufacturing the necessary doses," the officials write. "A decision on composition will need to be made in the US by June 2022."

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Bungie offers strong support for abortion rights amid Supreme Court leak

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 2:52pm
Artist's conception of Bungie taking aim at anti-choice activists.

Enlarge / Artist's conception of Bungie taking aim at anti-choice activists.

Destiny developer Bungie posted a statement late Tuesday expressing strong support for abortion rights in the United States. The move makes Bungie the first video game company to publicly comment on a leaked draft opinion that shows the Supreme Court poised to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal across the country.

Bungie's statement:

At Bungie we believe that everyone has a right to choose their own path and that freedom is expressed across all facets of life. The leaked draft decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade represents a blow to freedom in America and is a direct attack on human rights.

By creating a divide between those who posses [sic] the fundamental right to make healthcare decisions that are right for them, and those who do not posses that same freedom, this decision, should it become final, will have far-reaching consequences that will be felt for generations across socio-economic lines.

Bungie is committed to safeguarding the freedom and privacy of its employees and providing support to all employees affected by this decision.

Standing up for reproductive choice and liberty is not a difficult decision to make, and Bungie remains dedicated to upholding these values.

The Destiny-maker, which is set to become a Sony subsidiary in the coming months, went on to defend its position in the replies to a heavily trafficked tweet that went out to the company's 2.8 million followers.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

“Black widow” neutron star takes an hour to orbit the star it’s roasting

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 2:32pm
Image of two jets of material, one of which is pointed near a star.

Enlarge / An artist's impression of a neutron star getting ready to blast its neighbor with radiation. (credit: NASA)

Our Sun is on its own in this galaxy, without a nearby companion orbiting with it. But binary star systems are pretty common, and our nearest neighbor appears to be a three-star system. Given how many different types of stars there are, many multistar systems have a strange membership mix, with giant, unstable stars orbiting next to relatively mundane ones.

In Wednesday's issue of Nature, researchers report on a rarity: a "black widow" neutron star that's close enough to its companion to be blasting it with radiation. Should the process continue, it will ultimately lead to the star's evaporation and death. And, just for good measure, the pair also has a distant companion that's an old and rare dwarf star.

Searching for oddities

The work started in the archives of the Zwicky Transient Facility. The ZTF is designed to scan the entire sky in the Northern Hemisphere every two days and uses software to pick out anything that changes. Often, this would mean something blew up: A star suddenly brightens (in some cases becoming visible from Earth for the first time) because it has exploded as a supernova.

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TurboTax forced to stop misleading “free, free, free” ads and pay back $141M

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 1:19pm
Boxed versions of TurboTax software sit on a store shelf.

Enlarge / TurboTax products sit on display at Costco on January 28, 2016, in Foster City, California. (credit: Getty Images | Kimberly White )

TurboTax owner Intuit "will pay $141 million in restitution to millions of consumers across the nation who were unfairly charged" and stop its "free, free, free" ad campaign "that lured customers with promises of free tax preparation services, only to deceive them into paying," New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday. Intuit is accused of steering customers away from the IRS Free File program that is free to 70 percent of taxpayers while using misleading ads to promote a separate "freemium" TurboTax product that isn't actually free to most people.

Intuit agreed to the settlement with all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. "Intuit cheated millions of low-income Americans out of free tax filing services they were entitled to," James said in the settlement announcement. "For years, Intuit misled the most vulnerable among us to make a profit. Today, every state in the nation is holding Intuit accountable for scamming millions of taxpayers, and we're putting millions of dollars back into the pockets of impacted Americans."

Specifically, "Intuit will provide restitution to nearly 4.4 million consumers who started using TurboTax's Free Edition for tax years 2016 through 2018 and were told that they had to pay to file even though they were eligible to file for free using the IRS Free File program offered through TurboTax." Payments will be about $30 for each tax year and "impacted consumers will automatically receive notices and a check by mail," the announcement said.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Mozilla releases Firefox version 100 this week

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 12:55pm
A special 100th-version splash page appears on the first launch of a new Firefox installation.

Enlarge / A special 100th-version splash page appears on the first launch of a new Firefox installation. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Firefox released its 100th update, and some fanfare accompanied the release on Mozilla's blog about the web browser. Firefox 100 is available this week for both desktop and mobile versions.

To celebrate, Mozilla says it will be regularly sharing fan art inspired by Firefox throughout May. But while that 100 number carries some symbolic weight, the update itself isn't particularly monumental.

On the desktop, subtitles and captions are now supported in Firefox's picture-in-picture mode for videos. Three key websites officially support subtitles and captions in PIP: YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video. Plus, the feature works on websites that support the WebVTT standard, like Twitter.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New lawsuit calls Kotick’s handling of Activision-Microsoft merger “inexcusable”

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 12:44pm
New lawsuit calls Kotick’s handling of Activision-Microsoft merger “inexcusable”

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

The Activision-Blizzard shareholders' response to a whirlwind of news over the past year—which include disturbing, company-wide allegations of sexual harassment and pay disparity, followed by a $68.7 billion acquisition proposal—reached a new head at the end of April in the form of a sweeping lawsuit.

As first reported by Axios on Wednesday, the April 26 civil suit, as filed by the New York City Employees' Retirement System and other NYC retirement and pension systems, hinges upon allegations that Activision-Blizzard has failed to properly open its books. Its plaintiffs, which include longstanding Activision-Blizzard shareholders, contend in Delaware court that fuller disclosure from Activision-Blizzard is required to answer their allegations about "breaches of fiduciary duty."

"Escape liability and accountability"

Those include the shareholders' belief that executives acted in their own interests, as opposed to those of company shareholders, in failing for years to inform them about the original California state lawsuit's allegations. The suit also alleges that the board is accelerating efforts to complete a proposed merger with Microsoft to "extinguish highly valuable derivative claims" against all Activision-Blizzard board members and longtime company CEO Bobby Kotick.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Report: Sonos is launching its own voice assistant in June

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 12:21pm
Sonos Beam soundbar.

Enlarge / Sonos Beam soundbar. (credit: Sonos)

According to a report from The Verge on Wednesday, Sonos is launching a voice assistant on June 1. The publication cited "people familiar with the company's plans" who claim the feature will bring voice control to Sonos' home audio products.

A Sonos rep told Ars Technica that the company doesn't comment on rumors or speculation when asked for comment.

Currently, Sonos' products, like Bluetooth speakers and soundbars, support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Now, it's reportedly interested in equipping its products with its own voice assistant.

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YouTube Go is dead, and you can probably blame YouTube Premium

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 11:21am
YouTube Go is dead, and you can probably blame YouTube Premium

Enlarge (credit: YouTube)

YouTube Go is probably not an app that many of our US readers are familiar with, given its singular focus on the developing world, but it scored more than 500 million downloads in its six years of existence. It's also dead. YouTube recently announced the app will be shutting down this August.

Google kills product

View more stories YouTube Go was the herald for Google's "next billion users" plan in 2016. When you're as big as Google and count "most Internet users" as your customer base, the best way to chase growth is to get more people on the Internet. The result was several "Go"-branded products, which targeted low-end devices with limited Internet access. One of the biggest developing markets was India.

With YouTube Go shutting down, YouTube cites improvements in the main YouTube app as the primary reason. The company says the main app has seen "improved performance for entry-level devices or those that watch YouTube on slower networks." YouTube says the main app also has "a better overall user experience [and] offers features that aren’t available on YouTube Go that many have asked for—such as the ability to comment, post, create content, and use dark theme."

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Discs vs. data: Are we helping the environment by streaming?

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 10:41am
Image of a pile of DVDs

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Earth Day was April 22, and its usual message—take care of our planet—has been given added urgency by the challenges highlighted in the latest IPCC report. This year, Ars is taking a look at the technologies we normally cover, from cars to chipmaking, and finding out how we can boost their sustainability and minimize their climate impact.

Gone are the days of going to Blockbuster to pick out a film for a night in. Physical media like CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, Sony’s weird PlayStation Portable UMDs, and countless other formats have been thoroughly dethroned thanks to a barrage of streaming services like Netflix—itself ailing at the moment—Amazon Prime, and Spotify.

For the first time in the past 17 years, CDs saw an increase in sales—of 1.1 percent, or 40.59 million units in 2021, compared to 40.16 million units the year prior. In 2021, people purchased 1.2 billion pieces of physical video media, compared to 6.1 billion a decade prior. Meanwhile, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, revenue from music streaming grew 13.4 percent to $10.1 billion in 2020.

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Razer’s 240 Hz laptop makes OLED more appealing to gamers

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 10:21am
Razer Blade 15 open displaying mountains

Enlarge / Razer Blade 15. (credit: Razer)

The portability of laptop displays means they often come with compromises in speed, color, or sharpness. For those who want a screen with the deepest contrast and darkest blacks without sacrificing speed, Razer is hoping to have the answer.

The upcoming configuration of the Razer Blade 15 announced Tuesday will be the first laptop to offer a 240 Hz refresh rate in an OLED panel. That makes OLED a more viable option for people, like gamers, who prioritize fast motion processing. Neither OLED monitors, with their high prices, nor OLED TVs have yet to reach such speeds. However, OLED has hit 240 Hz in other designs, such as in this camera's viewfinder.

The 15.6-inch screen on the upcoming Blade 15 claims a gray-to-gray (GtG) response time of 1 ms, which is as good as it gets for a gaming laptop these days, as well as 100 percent coverage of the wider DCI-P3 color space. As expected with an OLED panel, it's not super bright. At a claimed 400 nits, there are better laptop displays to use outside on a sunny day, for example.

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Microsoft open-sourced the code for 1995’s 3D Movie Maker because someone asked [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 9:57am
You, too, can make PS1-caliber 3D movies using nothing but 3D Movie Maker and your Windows 95 PC.

You, too, can make PS1-caliber 3D movies using nothing but 3D Movie Maker and your Windows 95 PC. (credit: Microsoft)

3:10 pm ET update: We've added details on features that 3D Movie Maker aficionados can expect now that the app has been open-sourced.

Original story: Back in 1995, the Microsoft Kids division of the company released a program called Microsoft 3D Movie Maker. The same year that the original Toy Story proved that feature-length 3D computer animation was feasible, people could install software on their home computers that could spit out crude-but-creative 3D animated movies at 6 to 8 frames per second.

Aside from releasing Doraemon and Nickelodeon-specific versions of Movie Maker later on, Microsoft never really returned to this software... until now. Microsoft Developer Division Community Manager Scott Hanselman announced yesterday that Microsoft was open-sourcing the code for 3D Movie Maker, posting it to Github in a read-only repository under an MIT license.

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FAA urges airlines to replace altimeters that can’t filter out 5G signals

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 9:36am
An airplane flying past a cell tower.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | BackyardProduction)

The Federal Aviation Administration is reportedly urging airlines to retrofit or replace altimeters that receive transmissions from outside their allotted frequencies. The FAA is meeting Wednesday "with telecom and airline industry officials on a push to retrofit and ultimately replace some airplane radio altimeters that could face interference from C-Band 5G wireless service," Reuters reported Tuesday.

The Reuters report continued:

The FAA wants to use the meeting to establish "an achievable timeframe to retrofit/replace radar altimeters in the US fleet," according to a previously unreported letter from the FAA's top aviation safety official Chris Rocheleau reviewed by Reuters. It also asked aviation representatives "to offer options and commit to actions necessary to meet these objectives."

Some altimeters used by airplanes to measure altitude apparently cannot filter out transmissions from C-Band frequencies assigned to wireless carriers for 5G. Altimeters are supposed to use frequencies from 4.2 GHz to 4.4 GHz, while wireless carriers' C-Band licenses are for 3.7 GHz to 3.98 GHz.

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NY Times says Wordle drove “tens of millions” of new users, record growth

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 9:18am
<em>Wordle</em>'s value to The New York Times isn't much of a puzzle.

Enlarge / Wordle's value to The New York Times isn't much of a puzzle. (credit: Wordle / NYT)

The New York Times' seven-figure purchase of viral hit Wordle in January was "incredibly valuable" to the company and was responsible for "an unprecedented tens of millions of new users to The Times," the media giant said in announcing its quarterly earnings Wednesday morning. And while New York Times Co. CEO Meredith Kopit Levien said the "majority of these incremental users only played Wordle, many... stayed to play other games, which drove our best quarter ever for net subscriber additions to Games."

Levien said during an earnings call that the number of average weekly users for the Times' non-Wordle games "nearly doubled" during the quarter ending in March. The game "played an outsized role in the quarter's engagement and subscriber growth," she added.

The Wordle acquisition was part of a larger effort to make The New York Times seem "more valuable to more people by helping them make the most of their lives and passions," Levien said during the call.

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Obi-Wan trailer released by Disney for Star Wars Day

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 7:39am
Disney's next live-action miniseries has a Jedi-focus.

Enlarge / Disney's next live-action miniseries has a Jedi-focus. (credit: Disney)

This post contains spoilers about a trailer, so consider yourself warned.

It's the day before the anniversary of the Mexican victory over France in the Battle of Puebla, so that means it's time for Star Wars celebrations. To honor the day, Disney has released a full trailer and the poster art for its upcoming Obi-Wan show, which begins airing on Disney+ on May 27.

The six-part miniseries is set a decade after the Battle of Mustafar—perhaps celebrated on Coruscant with spicy tacos and drinking. Not that there's any sign of such things in the new trailer. Instead, we see a bit of what Obi-Wan has been up to in the years since the fall of the Jedi and the rise of the empire.

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VW sells out of electric cars in US and Europe

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 7:31am
A blue VW ID.4 in a studio

Enlarge / A 2021 VW ID.4, the brand's battery-electric crossover. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Volkswagen, the world’s second-largest electric vehicle manufacturer by volume, has “sold out” of battery-powered models in the US and Europe for this year as persistent supply chain bottlenecks hit global production.

The Wolfsburg-based group, which includes brands such as Porsche, Audi, and Škoda, sold more than 99,000 electric models worldwide in the first three months of 2022 as it was hit by a shortage of semiconductors and wiring harnesses made in Ukraine.

Market leader Tesla delivered more than three times that number in the same quarter.

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This time, can Boeing’s Starliner finally shine?

ArsTechnica - Wed, 05/04/2022 - 7:28am
Boeing says its Starliner spacecraft is ready to roll to the launch pad in Florida.

Enlarge / Boeing says its Starliner spacecraft is ready to roll to the launch pad in Florida. (credit: Boeing)

Boeing and NASA say the Starliner spacecraft is ready for a do-over flight, with a second uncrewed test mission of the spacecraft now scheduled for May 19.

Nine months have passed since a standard pre-flight check of the spacecraft, then sitting atop a rocket on a launch pad in Florida, found that 13 of 24 oxidizer valves within Starliner's propulsion system were stuck. The discovery was made within hours of liftoff.

Since then, engineers and technicians at Boeing and NASA have worked to fully understand why the valves were stuck and to fix the problem. They found that the dinitrogen tetroxide oxidizer that had been loaded onto the spacecraft 46 days prior to launch had combined with ambient humidity to create nitric acid, which had started the process of corrosion inside the valve's aluminum housing.

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Could this pottery shard be a 1,000-year-old hand grenade? Signs point to yes

ArsTechnica - Tue, 05/03/2022 - 3:47pm
Could this pottery shard be a 1,000-year-old hand grenade? Signs point to yes

Enlarge

Archaeologists have analyzed the residue inside four medieval ceramic shards and determined that one of them may have been used as a hand grenade, according to a recent paper published in the journal PLOS One. And the explosive used was likely made locally rather than gunpowder imported from China.

Byzantine soldiers used early versions of grenades in the 8th century CE, building on the "Greek fire" invented a century earlier. Instead of using Greek fire with flamethrowers, they placed the incendiary material in small stone or ceramic (and later, glass) jars to create handheld explosives. By the 10th century, the technology had spread to China, with Chinese soldiers packing gunpowder into ceramic or metal containers with a fuse attached.

India likely also had grenade-like weapons. A 12th-century manuscript (based on an earlier Sanskrit work) describes a terracotta elephant filled with explosives with a fuse that was unleashed on an invading army. A mid-14th-century Chinese treatise references a "flying-cloud thunderclap cannon," described as cast iron shells shaped like a ball and roughly the size of a bowl, filled with gunpowder ("divine fire"). Similar grenades first appeared in Europe in 1467 and have been a staple of warfare ever since.

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BA.2.12.1 poised to become dominant in US, raising concern for future vaccines

ArsTechnica - Tue, 05/03/2022 - 3:05pm
A medical worker arranges nucleic acid samples at a makeshift nucleic acid testing site on May 3, 2022, in Beijing, China.

Enlarge / A medical worker arranges nucleic acid samples at a makeshift nucleic acid testing site on May 3, 2022, in Beijing, China. (credit: Getty | Pang Songgang)

The omicron subvariant BA.2.12.1 is poised to become dominant in the US, currently accounting for an estimated 36.5 percent of all US SARS-CoV-2 cases, according to the latest estimates released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The subvariant's ascent is the latest rapid succession of omicron subvariants, from the sky-scraping peak of cases from the initial omicron subvariant BA.1 in January, to the current bump driven by the subvariant BA.2, which achieved dominance in March. As before, the reason for the viral usurping is that omicron subvariants continue to evolve advantages: BA.2.12.1 has a transmission advantage over BA.2, which had a transmission advantage over BA.1, which had a significant advantage over delta.

The imminent reign of BA.2.12.1 raises concern for yet another wave of infections. It also calls into question the effectiveness of future omicron-specific vaccines against symptomatic infections.

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Every ISP in the US has been ordered to block three pirate streaming services

ArsTechnica - Tue, 05/03/2022 - 2:47pm
A skull and crossbones shown on a laptop computer screen.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | gaby_campo)

A federal judge has ordered all Internet service providers in the United States to block three pirate streaming services operated by Doe defendants who never showed up to court and hid behind false identities.

The blocking orders affect Israel.tv, Israeli-tv.com, and Sdarot.tv, as well as related domains listed in the rulings and any other domains where the copyright-infringing websites may resurface in the future. The orders came in three essentially identical rulings (see here, here, and here) issued on April 26 in US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Each ruling provides a list of 96 ISPs that are expected to block the websites, including Comcast, Charter, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. But the rulings say that all ISPs must comply even if they aren't on the list:

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