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.

Report: Major PlayStation-exclusive series will get a PC port this year

ArsTechnica - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 12:44pm
 Zero Dawn</em> with a keyboard and mouse? And all the other inherent perks of PC gaming? According to insiders, that might happen by the end of 2020.

Enlarge / Would you like to tear through Horizon: Zero Dawn with a keyboard and mouse? And all the other inherent perks of PC gaming? According to insiders, that might happen by the end of 2020. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Gaming news has emerged that may signal a monumental shift for Sony Interactive Entertainment. According to Kotaku, the publisher plans to port a massive game, previously exclusive to PlayStation consoles, as a standalone purchase for Windows PC gaming storefronts.

The Thursday report, citing "three people familiar with Sony's plans," says that the game in question is the robo-safari adventure Horizon: Zero Dawn, which launched in early 2017 to rave reviews. News Editor Jason Schreier suggests that the game will arrive by the end of 2020. The PC version could be sold on both Steam and Epic Games Store, though Kotaku is careful to say that storefront detail has not yet been finalized.

As a many-armed media company, Sony has published games on a variety of platforms over the decades. One of its most recently formed subsidiaries, UNTIES, is dedicated to launches of indie games like TinyMetal on consoles and PCs. But the part of Sony dedicated to all things PlayStation, which is currently known as SIE (formerly Sony Computer Entertainment), has only recently loosened its grip on PlayStation console exclusivity.

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Comcast settles lying allegations, will issue refunds and cancel debts

ArsTechnica - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 12:29pm
A Comcast service van covered in logos.

Enlarge / A Comcast service vehicle in Indianapolis, Indiana, in March 2016. (credit: Getty Images | jetcityimage)

Comcast has agreed to issue refunds to 15,600 customers and cancel the debts of another 16,000 people to settle allegations that the cable company lied to customers in order to hide the true cost of service. Comcast will have to pay $1.3 million in refunds.

The settlement with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, announced yesterday, resolves a lawsuit filed by the state against Comcast in December 2018.

"Together, the refunds and debt relief are worth millions of dollars," Ellison's announcement said. "The settlement also requires Comcast to change its advertising practices to disclose to its customers the full amount that they will be charged for service."

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Dealmaster: Take 33% off a 12-month subscription to Amazon’s Audible service

ArsTechnica - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 12:12pm
Collage of products for sale against a white background.

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a notable discount on 12-month Audible Gold subscriptions. A year of Amazon's audiobook service is currently available for $99.50, which is $50 off its usual going rate. The deal also nets you access to 12 audiobooks upfront, instead of Audible's usual policy of only granting one bonus audiobook a month.

The big catch is that the deal is not available to existing subscribers. That said, it's a little less restrictive than previous offers of this type, since those who haven't been a paying Audible subscriber in the past 30 days can take advantage of the deal in addition to first-time subscribers. So if you've been thinking of jumping back on the audiobook wagon, this might be a good opportunity to do so. Amazon says the offer will be available until January 31. Just keep in mind that once the discounted year expires, your membership will continue at the standard $150 rate until cancelled. As for whether or not Audible is worth it in the first place, we recommended the service in our most recent Mother's Day gift guide.

If you have no interest in audiobooks, we also have deals on the latest-gen AirPods, lots of charging gear, PlayStation Plus and Xbox Game Pass subscriptions, gaming monitors, Roku TVs, and more. You can check the full rundown below.

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Most lidars today have between 1 and 128 lasers—this one has 11,000

ArsTechnica - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 11:50am
Most lidars today have between 1 and 128 lasers—this one has 11,000

Lidar sensors work by bouncing laser light off surrounding objects to produce a three-dimensional "point cloud." The first modern three-dimensional lidar was created for the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, a pivotal self-driving car competition. Today, many experts continue to see lidar as a key enabling technology for self-driving cars.

That original 2005 lidar, made by a company called Velodyne, contained a vertical array of 64 lasers that spun around 360 degrees. Each laser had to be carefully aligned with a corresponding detector. This complexity contributed to prices as high as $75,000. Today, high-end lidars still cost tens of thousands of dollars.

There are now dozens of startups trying to build cheaper lidar. Many of them try to reduce costs by using a single laser beam that's scanned in a two-dimensional pattern.

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Video: YouTuber Mark “Markiplier” Fischbach reflects on his video history

ArsTechnica - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 11:11am

Video directed by Morgan Crossley, edited by Dylan Blau & Louville Moore. Click here for transcript.

We're going to try something a little different this afternoon. Some of Ars' highest-performing YouTube videos have focused on gaming topics—like how designers created Dead Space's grab-tentacle or how Amnesia: The Dark Descent tricks players into terrifying themselves (though we've also done well with non-gaming topics, like exploring the phenomenon of flat earthers and even interviewing famous NASA people).

Which leads us to Mark "Markiplier" Fischbach. He runs one of the most popular gaming channels on YouTube, with (currently) just a hair under 25 million subscribers.

The Condé mothership informed us late last month that they had gotten some time with Markiplier and wanted to know if we were interested in filming something with him—and we took the plunge. Markiplier has a loud personality and is best known for his mugging at the camera while doing "Let's Play" videos on jump-scare games, but we wanted to see if we could capture a calmer, more introspective Markiplier than most folks might be used to seeing, looking over the past several years of the YouTube content creator landscape and discussing his successes—and his not-so-successes. It's an interesting glimpse into a world that a lot of regular Ars readers (myself included) might not be that familiar with—an alternate reality of content creation, where YouTube comments actually matter and trying to figure out how to maintain engagement is critical to success.

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Cyberpunk 2077 release pushed back to September 17, 2020

ArsTechnica - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 11:01am

 

CD Projekt Red announced via tweet this afternoon that the heavily anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 would be released on September 17, 2020. That's a five-month delay from the April 16 release date that was announced last June.

"We are currently at a stage where the game is complete and playable, but there's still work to be done," the company wrote. "Night City is massive—full of stories, content, and places to visit, but due to the sheer scale and complexity of it all, we need more time to finish playtesting, fixing, and polishing."

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Cooler Master is tired of telling parents their kids aren’t on drugs

ArsTechnica - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 10:36am

Early this morning, Cooler Master tweeted a picture of its new spade-tipped thermal compound applicators and captioned it "we didn't change the shape of the syringe to make applying thermal paste a lot easier, but because we're getting tired of having to explain to parents that their kid isn't using drugs."

It took the Ars staff a few minutes of grappling with Poe's Law to figure out if they were serious or not. On the one hand, how many parents would really mistake thermal compound for a medical syringe? On the other hand... the world's a big place, and as recently as 2015, I needed to tell parents en masse that the most prevalent server operating system on the planet isn't malware, so who knows? But Cooler Master is probably just joining the likes of Wendy's, Denny's, and Old Spice on Snarky Brand Twitter.

What we're sure of is that the spade-tipped applicator looks a lot more pleasant to use than the general purpose closed-needle-tip syringe senior techs and enthusiasts have been grappling with for decades. If you're not accustomed to it, thermal compound is thick, goopy, and an absolute nightmare to clean off of any credit card you unwisely use to try to spread a thin film of it evenly across your new CPU, as guides have advised for as long as thermal compound has existed. (Some techs keep a "fake" credit card around for just this purpose, which at least lets them get some use out of spam credit card offers.)

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Ars readers gave more than $33,000 in 2019 charity drive

ArsTechnica - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 10:30am
Giving a little joy.

Enlarge / Giving a little joy. (credit: Flickr / xJasonRogersx)

Last month, we asked readers to donate to our 2019 Charity Drive sweepstakes. Now that the giving is done and the results have been tallied, we can report that Ars Technica readers donated $33,181.11 to Child's Play and the EFF through the charity drive. That's not quite a record for our annual effort, but it does bring our donation total over 13 years of charity driving past the $330,000 mark! Well done, Arsians!

Thanks to everyone who gave whatever they could. We're still early in the process of selecting and notifying winners of our swag giveaway, so don't fret if you haven't heard if you're a winner yet. In the meantime, enjoy these quick stats from the 2019 drive.

  • 2019 Fundraising total: $33,181.11
    • Total given to Child's Play: $14,373.88
    • Total given to the EFF: $18,758.00
  • Number of individual donations: 474
    • Child's Play donations: 253
    • EFF donations: 221
  • Average donation: $70.00
    • Child's Play average donation: $57.04
    • EFF average donation: $84.88
  • Median donation: $25.00
    • Median Child's Play donation: $25.00
    • Median EFF donation: $50.00
  • Top single donation: $1,000 (2 to EFF, 1 to CP)
  • Donations of $1,000 or more: 3
  • Donations of $100 or more: 121(!)
  • $1 donations: 3 (every little bit helps!)
  • Total charity donations from Ars Technica drives since 2007 (approximate): $336,107.01
    • 2018: $20,210.66
    • 2017: $36,012.37
    • 2016: $38,738.11
    • 2015: $38,861.06
    • 2014: $25,094.31
    • 2013: $23,570.13
    • 2012: $28,713.52
    • 2011: ~$26,000
    • 2010: ~$24,000
    • 2009: ~$17,000
    • 2008: ~$12,000
    • 2007: ~$10,000

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Another reason to hurry with Windows server patches: A new RDP vulnerability

ArsTechnica - Thu, 01/16/2020 - 9:11am
A crafted request is like a skeleton key for gaining access to unpatched Windows Remote Desktop servers.

Enlarge / A crafted request is like a skeleton key for gaining access to unpatched Windows Remote Desktop servers. (credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

While much of the attention around Microsoft's latest Windows security patch has been focused on a flaw in Windows 10 and Windows Server that could be used to spoof a certificate for secure Web sessions or signing code, there were 48 other vulnerabilities that were fixed in the latest update package. Five were related to Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)-based service, which is used by thousands of organizations for remote access to computers within their networks. And two of them are flaws in the Windows Remote Desktop Gateway that could allow attackers to gain access to networks without having to provide a login.

These two separate bugs, identified as CVE-2020-0609 and CVE-2020-0610, are rated as more dangerous than the crypto bug by Microsoft because, while they're not yet exploited, they could be used to remotely execute code on targeted RDP servers before the gateway even attempts to authenticate them.

"An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights," the Microsoft Security Response Center summary of both vulnerabilities warned. And there is no way to work around the vulnerability without applying a software update. Both attacks rely on specially crafted requests to the Remote Desktop Gateway using the RDP protocol.

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Critical Windows 10 vulnerability used to Rickroll the NSA and Github

ArsTechnica - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 5:30pm
Chrome on Windows 10 as it Rickrolls the NSA.

Enlarge / Chrome on Windows 10 as it Rickrolls the NSA. (credit: https://twitter.com/saleemrash1d/status/1217519809732259840/photo/1)

Less than a day after Microsoft disclosed one of the most critical Windows vulnerabilities ever, a security researcher has demonstrated how attackers can exploit it to cryptographically impersonate any website or server on the Internet.

Researcher Saleem Rashid on Wednesday tweeted images of the video "Never Gonna Give You Up," by 1980s heart-throb Rick Astley, playing on Github.com and NSA.gov. The digital sleight of hand is known as Rickrolling and is often used as a humorous and benign way to demonstrate serious security flaws. In this case, Rashid's exploit causes both the Edge and Chrome browsers to spoof the HTTPS verified websites of Github and the National Security Agency. Brave and other Chrome derivatives, as well as Internet Explorer, are also likely to fall to the same trick. (There's no indication Firefox is affected.)

Rashid's simulated attack exploits CVE-2020-0601, the critical vulnerability that Microsoft patched on Tuesday after receiving a private tipoff from the NSA. As Ars reported, the flaw can completely break certificate validation for websites, software updates, VPNs, and other security-critical computer uses. It affects Windows 10 systems, including server versions Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019. Other versions of Windows are unaffected.

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Google gives Chrome OS Apps a shutdown date

ArsTechnica - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 5:05pm
The "App" section of the Chrome Web Store.

Enlarge / The "App" section of the Chrome Web Store. (credit: Google Chrome)

Chrome's Packaged Apps have been a dead platform for a while now, after a 2016 announcement that the "App" section of Chrome's Web store would be pulled from Windows, Mac, and Linux, leaving Chrome OS as the only supported OS. Today, Google announced that the last supported platform, Chrome OS, is losing access to Chrome apps, too, along with dates to strip the app feature out of Chrome's code base. Google writes it "will begin phasing out support for Chrome Apps across all operating systems as follows:"

  • March 2020: Chrome Web Store will stop accepting new Chrome Apps. Developers will be able to update existing Chrome Apps through June 2022.
  • June 2020: End support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support through December 2020.
  • December 2020: End support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • June 2021: End support for NaCl, PNaCl, and PPAPI APIs.
  • June 2021: End support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support through June 2022.
  • June 2022: End support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS for all customers.

Most Windows, Mac, and Linux users haven't been able to use Chrome packaged apps for years now, as the Web store was shut down for them in 2017. Users on those OSes shouldn't notice a thing, unless they were sideloading packaged apps or getting them through an enterprise management feature. Chrome OS is the real news here, and it will continue to cling to the feature until June 2022.

Google kills product

View more stories Chrome OS supports a number of platforms that get presented in the "app" style, so keep in mind only the "Chrome Packaged Apps" are going away. Chrome OS will still keep its app-like shortcuts to websites, along with support for "Progressive Web Apps (PWA)"—Web APIs that support app-style features like push notifications and offline functionality. There's still going to be support for Android apps, which bring the nearly 3 million apps in the Play Store to Chrome OS. Google also points out that "This change does not impact support for Chrome Extensions" and that "Fostering a robust ecosystem of extensions is critical to Chrome's mission, and we are committed to providing a useful extension platform for customizing the browsing experience for all users."

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Mozilla lays off 70 people as non-search revenue fails to materialize

ArsTechnica - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 4:53pm
A Firefox logo is seen outside Mozilla's office in San Francisco.

Enlarge / Mozilla's office in San Francisco. (credit: Getty Images | Iuliia Serova)

Mozilla has laid off 70 people, TechCrunch reports. It's a significant move for an organization that employs around 1,000 people worldwide.

"You may recall that we expected to be earning revenue in 2019 and 2020 from new subscription products as well as higher revenue from sources outside of search," wrote Mozilla interim CEO Mitchell Baker in a memo to staff obtained by TechCrunch. "This did not happen."

Baker said Mozilla had decided not to shelve its $43 million innovation fund, which focuses on creating new Mozilla products. She said Mozilla would provide "generous exit packages and outplacement support" to those who were let go.

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The broken record of breaking encryption skips again in Florida shooter case

ArsTechnica - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 4:40pm
A man in a suit gesticulates while he bloviates.

Enlarge / US President Donald Trump speaks about the impeachment inquiry during a tour of the Flextronics computer manufacturing facility where Apple's Mac Pros are assembled in Austin, Texas, on November 20, 2019. Now, he's ranting about Apple being unpatriotic. (credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

On the eve of the House of Representatives' forwarding of articles of impeachment to the Senate, President Donald Trump took time to attack Apple. The president's outburst on Twitter appears to be about the FBI's inability to get access to the physical storage on two iPhones connected to last month's killings at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. And it is the latest ratcheting up of rhetoric from the Trump administration on device encryption.

The phones are believed by the FBI to have been the property of Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the Saudi Air Force officer who was the suspect in the shooting of three members of the US Navy in December. Alshamrani died after being shot by law enforcement, and the devices were locked.

But an Apple spokesperson said that Apple had provided the contents of the cloud backups of those devices to investigators within hours of the shooting, and Apple executives thought the FBI was satisfied with that—until the FBI came back a week ago and asked for additional assistance. It is not clear that Apple has refused that assistance, but the company has resisted providing a way for the government to break the encryption on devices in the past. Apple did this out of concern that breaking open devices would reduce the protection provided to law-abiding customers against theft of their personal data off stolen or otherwise targeted devices.

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US may subsidize Huawei alternatives with proposed $1.25 billion fund

ArsTechnica - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 2:15pm
A Huawei sign hanging from the ceiling in a conference expo hall.

Enlarge / Huawei sign displayed at CES 2020 in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The US government should spend at least $1.25 billion "to invest in Western-based alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE," a bipartisan group of six US senators said yesterday.

The senators submitted legislation called the Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act to make that happen, arguing that the US must counter the Chinese government's investments in the telecom sector. The money would come from spectrum-auction proceeds, and the $1.25 billion in grants would be spread out over 10 years. The money would support development of new 5G technology, with a focus on equipment that complies with open standards to ensure "multi-vendor network equipment interoperability."

The senators' announcement said:

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Amazon lifts ban on FedEx for third-party marketplace sellers

ArsTechnica - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 10:34am
FedEx and Amazon, friends once more.

Enlarge / FedEx and Amazon, friends once more. (credit: Christopher Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Internet giant Amazon is doing an about-face on its earlier ban and will now let third-party vendors using its marketplace ship items using FedEx.

The company lifted its ban as of 5pm eastern time yesterday, reports Bloomberg, which obtained a copy of the email Amazon sent to sellers.

Amazon in December abruptly prohibited third-party vendors on its website from using FedEx ground delivery services. In a communication to third-party merchants sent at the time, Amazon said the ban on FedEx Ground and Home services would persist "until the delivery performance of these ship methods improves."

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2019 was likely Earth’s second-hottest year on record

ArsTechnica - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 10:30am
Temperature above or below the 1950-1981 average, in kelvins (equivalent to degrees C).

Enlarge / Temperature above or below the 1950-1981 average, in kelvins (equivalent to degrees C). (credit: NASA)

It’s mid-January, which means the jokes about New Year’s resolutions are hopefully fading out along with your seasonal depression. Oh, and NOAA’s and NASA’s final 2019 global temperature analyses have dropped. (No need to get the party hats and noisemakers back out.)

Let’s start with the numbers. Last year comes in as the second warmest on record in almost every dataset. The UK Met Office dataset has it in third place, as does one satellite dataset (though it is a bit out of step with other satellite records). Satellite datasets measure temperatures higher in the atmosphere rather than surface temperatures, so small differences are not uncommon. Surface temperature datasets generally go back to the late 1800s, while satellite datasets begin in 1979.

(credit: NASA)

The biggest piece of context you need to understand these annual updates is the El Niño Southern Oscillation—a see-saw of Pacific Ocean temperatures that pushes the global average a little above or below the long-term trend each year. In an El Niño pattern, warm water from the western equatorial Pacific drifts toward South America. In a La Niña pattern, strong winds hold that warm water back, pulling up deep, cold water along South America. Years in which El Niño dominates tend to have a higher global average surface temperature, while La Niña years are a little cooler.

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Letting slower passengers board airplane first really is faster, study finds

ArsTechnica - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 9:17am
Physicists demonstrated that there really is an optimal boarding process for airplanes.

Enlarge / Physicists demonstrated that there really is an optimal boarding process for airplanes. (credit: izusek/Getty Images)

Commercial airlines often prioritize boarding for passengers traveling with small children, or for those who need extra assistance—in other words, those likely to be slower to stow their bags and take their seats—before starting to board the faster passengers. It's counter-intuitive, but it turns out that letting slower passengers board first actually results in a more efficient process and less time before takeoff, according to a new paper in Physical Review E.

Physicists have been puzzling over this particular optimization problem for several years now. While passengers all have reserved seats, they arrive at the gate in arbitrary order, and over the years, airlines have tried any number of boarding strategies to make the process as efficient and timely as possible. Flight delays have a ripple effect on the complex interconnected network of air travel and often result in extra costs and disgruntled passengers.

Back in 2011, Jason Steffen, now a physicist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, became intrigued by the problem and applied the same optimization routine used to solve the famous traveling salesman problem to airline boarding strategies. Steffen fully expected that boarding from the back to the front would be the most efficient strategy and was surprised when his results showed that strategy was actually the least efficient. The most efficient, aka the "Steffen method," has the passengers board in a series of waves. "Adjacent passengers in line will be seated two rows apart from each other," Steffen wrote at The Conversation in 2014. "The first wave of passengers would be, in order, 30A, 28A, 26A, 24A, and so on, starting from the back."

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The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid isn’t exciting, but it is quite frugal

ArsTechnica - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 8:12am

On Tuesday, I wrote about the week I spent with the current Toyota Prius Prime. Today, you get to read about another Toyota hybrid, the 2020 Corolla Hybrid, which I drove for 10 days immediately following my week with the plug-in Prius. The two cars actually have a lot in common. They use the same TNGA architecture, the same four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle internal combustion engine, the same electric motor, and the same continuously variable transmission. Like the Prius Prime, the Corolla offers a combined output of 121hp (90kW), with 71hp (53kW) of that from the electric motor. It also has the same amount of torque—105lb-ft (142Nm).

But the Corolla isn't a plug-in, and it uses a nickel-metal hydride battery to feed the electric motor, the same as the regular Prius. That means it's lighter on its tires, with a curb weight of 3,050lbs (1,384kg). And it's significantly cheaper—at $23,100 it is more than $1,000 cheaper than the least expensive Prius, other than the subcompact Prius C. It also looks extremely normal compared to the current Prius. Unremarkably normal, in fact, particularly in the white paint—if you're looking for a car to surveil or conduct a stake-out, this could well be it.

Open the door, step inside, and the unremarkable normality continues. The main instrument display is right in front of you, not offset up to the right on the dash. It's a 7-inch digital display, flanked on either side by analogue dials, and everything is clear and understandable. There's a conventional gearstick that pokes up from the center console. The infotainment system is Toyota's standard Entune 3.0, with an 8-inch touchscreen that also offers Sirius XM and Apple Carplay—that comes in very handy because there is no built-in navigation or GPS here, although Android (and iOS) users can download the Scout GPS Link app and use their phones to find the way.

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Forgotten trove of fossil feathers belonged to tiny polar dinosaurs

ArsTechnica - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 6:36am
Image of a rock with a feather fossil that preserves many fine branches.

Enlarge / One of the spectacular feather fossils that has been sitting in a museum's sample collection for decades. (credit: Melbourne Museum)

Researchers have described ten fossil feathers from the polar regions of the former continent Gondwana for the first time. The collection, documented in a recent paper in Gondwana Research, contains a highly diverse array of feathers collected from the 118 million-year-old Koonwarra Fossil Bed in Victoria, Australia. 

The paper describes what is potentially the earliest evidence of a flight feather, and the first-ever non-avian dinosaur feathers found within the Antarctic Circle. It also documents dark coloration and insulating branching structures on some of the feathers, providing valuable insight into how polar dinosaurs might have stayed warm during long, dark winters. 

The fossils were initially discovered in the 1960s, but most of the technologies and knowledge used to understand the feathers described in this study didn’t yet exist at that point. Since then, they were tucked away in a drawer in the Melbourne Museum for decades, until lead author Martin Kundrát happened across an old paper in 2012 that described one of the feathers. 

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Google plans to drop Chrome support for tracking cookies by 2022

ArsTechnica - Wed, 01/15/2020 - 6:15am
A plate of chocolate-chip cookies.

Enlarge (credit: Rdsmith4 / Wikimedia)

Feeling the pressure from competing browser developers, Google on Tuesday laid out a plan to drop Chrome support of tracking cookies within two years.

The plan is laid out in a post titled "Building a more private Web: A path towards making third party cookies obsolete." It articulates a shift from a stance Chrome developers took in August, when they warned that the blocking of support for third-party cookies—which allow advertisers to track people as they move from site to site—would encourage the use of an alternative tracking method. Known as browser fingerprinting, it collects small characteristics of a browser—for instance, installed fonts or plugins, screen size, and browser version—to uniquely identify the person using it. Unlike cookies, fingerprinting is harder to detect, and user profiles can't be easily deleted.

Instead, Google's August post unveiled the "privacy sandbox," a proposed set of open standards that would serve as an alternative to the blocking of third-party cookies. Privacy sandbox uses browser-based machine learning and other techniques to determine user interests and aggregate them with other users. Google—whose ad-driven revenue model strongly favors ads that target individuals' interests and demographics—said the proposed standard would allow advertisers to deliver more relevant ads without allowing them to track individual users.

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