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.

Feds launch a probe into Big Tech’s smallest acquisitions

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/13/2020 - 9:45am
FTC Chairman Joe Simon speaking at a press conference in September, 2019.

Enlarge / FTC Chairman Joe Simon speaking at a press conference in September, 2019. (credit: MANDEL NGAN | AFP | Getty Images)

The Federal Trade Commission this week announced another set of probes to add onto the heaping mound of antitrust investigations the nation's biggest tech firms now face. This time around, they're digging into a decade's worth of acquisitions that were small enough to escape scrutiny the first time around but may have proven to have big consequences after the fact.

The review will cover acquisitions made by Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft between 2010 and 2019, the FTC said. The probe is not a criminal investigation but rather a "wide-ranging study" to help regulators better understand what trillion-dollar companies are doing when they gobble up little startups and their staffs.

The smaller transactions escaped scrutiny the first time around thanks to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act—the same law that mandates a look at bigger transactions. Under HSR, plans for mergers and acquisitions above a certain dollar threshold must be submitted to the FTC and Department of Justice in advance. The process is called, fittingly, premerger notification. Once a company has submitted its premerger filing, regulators have 30 days to take a look at the proposal and determine whether to probe deeper. If the waiting period expires or the FTC grants it early termination, the companies can move forward.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Samsung Galaxy S20 vs. iPhone 11 Pro: A deeper division lurks beneath the spec sheets

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/13/2020 - 9:40am

Flagship phones like the just-announced Samsung Galaxy S20 or the iPhone 11 Pro get a lot of the marketing and press hype, but most people aren't buying. The small percentage of consumers who are buying face a difficult choice that's about much more than just benchmarks, specs, or camera features.

A recent NPD report claimed that fewer than 10 percent of Americans buy flagship smartphones (in this case, defined as phones costing more than $1,000). After a year of smartphone shipments and revenues gradually sliding down a hill, global smartphone shipments finally grew in the fourth quarter of 2019—but only by one percent. Of the market's 369 million units in Q4, Apple shipped 78 million iPhone 11 models, and Samsung shipped 71 million. In other words, Samsung and Apple together accounted for 40 percent of the smartphones hitting the market. Looking at what they're doing tells us a lot about what today's priorities are.

When you look across the whole product lineups of these two companies, you see very different strategies. But at the top of each line, the phones are mostly similar. The latest flagship smartphones from these market behemoths focus on cameras and screens above all else, and on those counts, the Samsung Galaxy S20 and the iPhone 11 Pro aren't actually that radically different from one another.

Read 92 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Juul bought ads on CartoonNetwork.com, NickJr.com, other kid sites, suit says

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/13/2020 - 9:21am
Juul went with a fashionable, "cool" marketing strategy.

Enlarge / Juul went with a fashionable, "cool" marketing strategy. (credit: Mass.gov)

Popular e-cigarette maker Juul intentionally and egregiously tailored its marketing to appeal to underage youth, according to a lawsuit filed by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on February 12.

The company’s early marketing in 2015 and 2016 purposefully used young, “cool” models in its launch campaign, recruited teen “influencers” on social media, and bought banner and video advertisements on numerous websites aimed at teens and children, including Cartoon Network’s cartoonnetwork.com and Nickelodeon’s sites Nick.com and NickJr.com. Juul even went so far as to give advice to underage consumers over email on how to get around age restrictions to make online purchases of the company's e-cigarettes.

The lawsuit lands as public health officials across the nation are still grappling with an explosion in e-cigarette use by youth, which the Food and Drug Administration has referred to as an “epidemic.” Between 2011 and 2019, recent use of e-cigarettes by middle schoolers increased from 0.6 percent to 10.5 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For high schoolers, use increased from 1.5 percent to 27.5 percent in that timeframe. That means that by 2019, more than 1 in every 4 high school students said they had used e-cigarettes within the last 30-days from the time of the survey.

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Tesla cashes in on surging stock price with $2 billion stock offering

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/13/2020 - 9:02am
A man in a suit speaks at a podium.

Enlarge / Elon Musk in 2015. (credit: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Tesla will raise $2 billion in a new stock offering, the company announced on Thursday morning.

Tesla's shares are worth about $780 on Thursday morning—up 2 percent over Wednesday's closing price. That's still down from the record high of the more than $940 the stock reached last week.

CNBC notes that as recently as two weeks ago, Musk was saying that Tesla wasn't planning to raise more cash. But the spectacular performance of Tesla's stock over the last two weeks may have made this an opportunity too good to pass up.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Giant viruses may be attacking the microbes in our guts

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/13/2020 - 7:58am
Image showing a large, rounded cell with lots of small spheres tethered to it.

Enlarge / Phages on the surface of a bacterial cell. (credit: Dr. Graham Beards )

In many cases, viruses manage to spread so readily because they're so compact, allowing hundreds of thousands of viral particles to explode from a single sneeze. That compact size comes in part from their limited needs. Since viruses use parts of their host cells for much of what they need to do, even the more complicated viruses tend to only need a few dozen specialized genes to do things like evade the immune system or remain dormant in cells. In fact, complexity would seem to go against one of virus' evolutionary advantages: the ability to make lots of copies of itself very quickly.

So it was a bit of a surprise to find that there are giant viruses that carry far more genetic material than they seemingly need. All cells carry the machinery needed to make proteins so, at most, viruses typically carry just a few genes that direct the machinery to focus on the virus' needs. But the giant viruses seemed to carry replacements for much of the basic machinery itself. Those viruses were attacking complicated cells, with a lot of internal structures and many complex biological processes going on in different locations. Maybe carrying all those seemingly superfluous parts was advantageous in that context.

Or possibly not. In a study released today, researchers describe a large collection of giant viruses that target bacteria. While smaller than some of the largest eukaryotic viruses, they're not that much smaller. And given that they infect bacteria, the genomes of the newly described viruses may be a substantial fraction of the size of their host's genome.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ancient “chewing gum” contains a 5,700-year-old genome

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/13/2020 - 7:33am
This artist's reconstruction shows "Lola" as a young girl, with items that likely would have been part of her daily life, but we have no way of knowing how old she was when she chewed and discarded the lump of birch-bark pitch.

Enlarge / This artist's reconstruction shows "Lola" as a young girl, with items that likely would have been part of her daily life, but we have no way of knowing how old she was when she chewed and discarded the lump of birch-bark pitch. (credit: Tom Björklund)

5,700 years ago, a woman in what is now Denmark chewed a lump of birch-bark pitch for a while and then dropped it. Millennia later, the DNA she left behind reveals her entire genome, a census of the bacteria living in her mouth, and a few hints about a recent meal.

Meet “Lola”

If you’re a hunter-gatherer who needs to haft a stone tool, birch-bark pitch makes a handy adhesive, but you might have to chew it to make it pliable enough to work with. Pitch is watertight and contains an antiseptic compound called betulin, so it’s great at preserving DNA. In fact, archaeologists in Scandinavia have found more human DNA in bits of chewed pitch than they have in skeletons (which have been relatively rare at prehistoric Scandinavian sites we've studied thus far).

But this is the first time researchers have managed to sequence an ancient person's whole genome from a lump of chewed pitch. Only about a third of the DNA bioarchaeologist Hannes Schroeder, of the University of Copenhagen, sampled was human; the other 68 percent came from the ancient woman’s microbiome and traces of a prehistoric meal. This single discarded piece of ancient chewing gum tells us that the ancient woman, who Schroeder and his colleagues have nicknamed Lola, was probably lactose intolerant, ate duck and hazelnuts, and may recently have had pneumonia. She also had blue eyes, dark brown hair, and dark skin.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Nasty Android malware reinfects its targets, and no one knows how

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/13/2020 - 6:45am
Nasty Android malware reinfects its targets, and no one knows how

Enlarge

A widely circulating piece of Android malware primarily targeting US-based phones used a clever trick to reinfect one of its targets in a feat that stumped researchers as to precisely how it was pulled off.

xHelper came to light last May when a researcher from security firm Malwarebytes published this brief profile. Three months later, Malwarebytes provided a deeper analysis after the company’s Android antivirus app detected xHelper on 33,000 devices mostly located in the US, making the malware one of the top Android threats. The encryption and heavy obfuscation made analysis hard, but Malwarebytes researchers ultimately concluded that the main purpose of the malware was to act as a backdoor that could remotely receive commands and install other apps.

On Wednesday, Malwarebytes published a new post that recounted the lengths one Android user took to rid her device of the malicious app. In short, every time she removed two xHelper variants from the device, the malware would reappear on her device within the hour. She reported that even performing a factory reset wasn't enough to make the malware go away.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ars Technicast special edition, part 1: Machine learning assimilates athletics

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/13/2020 - 6:00am
Artist's impression of AI playing sports.

Enlarge / Artist's impression of AI playing sports. (credit: Pali Rao / Getty Images)

Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and other technologies are changing the world in which we live and work in some subtle, and not-so-subtle, ways. And we're diving into just a few of them in this podcast series produced in association with Darktrace.

One of the most visible places where analytics based on AI and machine learning are working their way into our popular awareness is in the realm of professional sports. From the virtual lines drawn on a football field to show the line of scrimmage and first-down markers to Major League Baseball stat casts predicting the probability of successful base stealing, AI has become part of how we consume sports.

In this episode, Ars editors Sean Gallagher and Lee Hutchinson talk with Tim Wade, vice president at NTT's Advanced Technology Group, about how NTT provides AI-based analytics for the Tour de France, the iconic 21-stage cycling competition. Wade's team uses wireless communications, helicopters, and a data center in a truck to turn sensor data from each of the competitors' bicycles into live statistics and analysis of the race—including an algorithm that predicts pile-ups in the peloton.

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Sonic the Hedgehog film review: You can slow your roll, Sega fans

ArsTechnica - Wed, 02/12/2020 - 11:00pm
High-speed blur effect? Check. Golden ring? Check. Oversized eyes? Check (thank goodness). But what about the rest of the first live-action <em>Sonic the Hedgehog</em> film?

Enlarge / High-speed blur effect? Check. Golden ring? Check. Oversized eyes? Check (thank goodness). But what about the rest of the first live-action Sonic the Hedgehog film? (credit: Sega / Paramount)

At least seven times during my screening of Sonic the Hedgehog, the first live-action film based on the classic Sega gaming franchise, I blurted to myself: "I can't believe they nearly kept the old design."

The nicest thing I can say about this week's new movie is that Sega and Paramount dodged a monumental disaster. This film's camera is in love with Sonic, the sole CGI-ified star. It constantly stares him down, lingers on his cartoon-bulging eyes, and allows the animation crew to sell his emotional state. Not that Sonic is a subtle character; actor Ben Schwarz (Parks & Recreation, the voice of Star Wars' BB-8) plays the titular role like a caffeinated 12-year-old, and it's fitting. But the film's heartwarming moments always include deep looks into Sonic's eyes. That could've been very, very different.

Now, audience members can rest assured that this serviceable, acceptable, not-amazing-but-not-terrible family film wasn't tanked by toothy, limber, squinty-eyed Sonic. With that crucial detail out of the way, the rest of the attached film isn't as sensational or headline-worthy. The series' first live-action film is neither a jolt to the pantheon of Sonic media nor a must-see video game adaptation. We've landed somewhere above The Angry Birds Movie, somewhere below Pokemon: Detective Pikachu.

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Huawei fires back, points to US’ history of spying on phone networks

ArsTechnica - Wed, 02/12/2020 - 8:03pm
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)

Chinese vendor Huawei has provided a longer response to US allegations of spying, claiming that it doesn't have the spying capability alleged by the US and pointing out that the US itself has a long history of spying on phone networks.

"As evidenced by the Snowden leaks, the United States has been covertly accessing telecom networks worldwide, spying on other countries for quite some time," Huawei said in a six-paragraph statement sent to news organizations. "The report by the Washington Post this week about how the CIA used an encryption company to spy on other countries for decades is yet additional proof." (That Post report detailed how the CIA bought a company called Crypto AG and used it to spy on communications for decades.)

Huawei's latest statement came in response to a Wall Street Journal report yesterday quoting US officials as saying, "We have evidence that Huawei has the capability secretly to access sensitive and personal information in systems it maintains and sells around the world." The US has been sharing its intelligence with allies as it tries to convince them to stop using Huawei products but still hasn't made the evidence public.

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We have no idea what to make of this bonkers trailer for The Iron Mask

ArsTechnica - Wed, 02/12/2020 - 7:15pm

Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger get top billing, and Jason Flemyng reprises his role as 18th-century cartographer Jonathan Green in The Iron Mask.

The campy antics of Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger dominate the trailer for The Iron Mask (aka Viy 2: Journey to China), a Russo-Chinese fantasy adventure film that also boasts Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister on Game of Thrones) and the late Rutger Hauer in one of his final roles. I've watched the trailer three times and still only have the vaguest idea what this film is about. There are elements of Alexandre Dumas' Man in the Iron Mask, elaborate Hong Kong supernatural drama, and a good old-fashioned swashbuckling adventure.

Directed by Oleg Stepchenko, The Iron Mask is actually a sequel to a 2014 Russian horror/fantasy film called The Forbidden Kingdom (aka Viy 3D or Forbidden Empire), loosely based in turn on a 19th-century horror novella by Nikolai Gogol. In the novella, a young philosopher encounters a shapeshifting witch and, after a confusing series of events, dies in horror after looking upon the iron face of Viy, a demonic King of the Gnomes.

The film version combines Gogol's central storyline with a second story following the adventures of a cartographer named Jonathan Green (Jason Flemyng). Green comes to a small Ukrainian village whose residents have tried to seal themselves off from the rest of the world in hopes of warding off a nameless evil. (The character is inspired by real-life French cartographer Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan, the first to study Ukrainian culture.)

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Ubuntu 18.04.4 LTS released Wednesday—here’s what’s new

ArsTechnica - Wed, 02/12/2020 - 6:05pm
Screenshot of OS in action.

Enlarge / Wherever possible, we recommend most users stick to LTS releases. Today's 18.04.4 update makes that possible for newer hardware, like HP's Dragonfly Elite G1. (credit: Jim Salter)

This Wednesday, the current Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Service) release—Bionic Beaver—launched its fourth maintenance update.

Ubuntu is one of the most predictable operating system distributions in terms of its release cycle—a new version is launched in April and October of each year. Most of these are interim releases, supported for nine months from launch; but the April release of each even-numbered year is an LTS, supported for five years. LTS releases also get maintenance releases as necessary, typically about every three to six months during the support cycle of the LTS.

Today's release, 18.04.4, is one of those maintenance releases. It's not as shiny and exciting as entirely new versions, of course, but it does pack in some worthwhile security and bugfix upgrades, as well as support for more and newer hardware—such as the bleeding-edge Intel Wi-Fi chipset in HP's Dragonfly Elite G1 laptop, which we reviewed last month.

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Rental cars can be remotely started, tracked, and more after customers return them

ArsTechnica - Wed, 02/12/2020 - 3:30pm
Photograph of Ford Mustang combined with image of automobile controls.

Enlarge / The screen displayed by FordPass four days after an Enterprise Rent-A-Car customer returned his Ford Mustang. (credit: Masamba Sinclair)

In October, Ars chronicled the story of a man who was able to remotely start, stop, lock, unlock, and track a Ford explorer he rented and returned five months earlier. Now, something almost identical has happened again to the same Enterprise Rent-A-Car customer. Four days after returning a Ford Mustang, the FordPass app installed on the phone of Masamba Sinclair continues to give him control of the car.

Like the last time, Sinclair could track the car’s location at any given time. He could start and stop the engine and lock and unlock its doors. Enterprise only removed Sinclair’s access to the car on Wednesday, more than three hours after I informed the rental agency of the error.

“It looks like someone else has rented it and it’s currently at a golf resort,” Sinclair wrote on Tuesday in an email. “This car is LOUD so starting the engine will definitely start people asking a lot of questions.” On Wednesday, before his access was removed, he added: “Looks like the previous rental is over and it's back at the Enterprise parking lot.” Below is a video demonstrating the control he had until then.

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Andy Rubin’s smartphone startup, Essential, is dead

ArsTechnica - Wed, 02/12/2020 - 2:36pm

Andy Rubin's smartphone startup, Essential, is finally dead. Today, Essential announced in a blog post that it is closing its doors, saying that since it has "no clear path to deliver" its newest smartphone to customers, the company has "made the difficult decision to cease operations and shut down Essential."

Essential was Andy Rubin's next company after his previous gig at Google, where he lead the development of Android, taking the OS from nothing to the world's most popular operating system. Being "The Father of Android" meant venture capital firms would throw money at him when he left Google to form a new company. That company was Essential, where Andy Rubin jumped full time into smartphone hardware. The company was valued at $1.2 billion before it even sold a single product.

Essential ended up releasing a single smartphone, the Essential Phone, in 2017, along with two modular accessories: a $200 360-degree camera and a $150 clip-on headphone jack (yes, really). Since then, the company has just kind of hung around and canceled in-development products. It has done very little in the "selling things for money" category of business. Essential planned to sell a charging dock for the Essential Phone, but that product was never released. Alongside the phone, the company announced a smart display called the "Essential Home" and a new smart operating system called "Ambient OS," but neither the hardware nor software ever materialized.

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Frontier, nearing bankruptcy, faces scrutiny over weeks-long phone outages

ArsTechnica - Wed, 02/12/2020 - 2:20pm
A Frontier Communications service van parked in a snowy area.

Enlarge / A Frontier Communications service van. (credit: Mike Mozart / Flickr)

Frontier Communications is facing more scrutiny over outages that have left its customers without telecom service—including access to 911 emergency calling—for weeks at a time.

US Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) sent letters to Frontier and the Federal Communications Commission last week, saying that Frontier's failure to quickly restore service during outages has put residents in danger.

Frontier offers telecom service in 29 states over its fiber and copper networks, and the company is reportedly planning to file for bankruptcy by mid-March. Frontier has been investigated recently for long outages in several states.

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Man who refused to decrypt hard drives is free after four years in jail

ArsTechnica - Wed, 02/12/2020 - 1:43pm
Man working online at a laptop computer

Enlarge (credit: Andrew Brookes / Getty Images)

A Philadelphia man has been freed after a federal appeals court ruled that his continued detention was violating federal law. Francis Rawls, a former police officer, had been in jail since 2015, when a federal judge held him in contempt for failing to decrypt two hard drives taken from his home. The government believes they contain child pornography.

In 2015, law enforcement raided Rawls' home and seized two smartphones, a Mac laptop, and two hard drives. Prosecutors were able to gain access to the laptop, and police say forensic analysis showed Rawls downloading child pornography and saving it to the external hard drives. But the drives themselves were encrypted, preventing the police from accessing the downloaded files.

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After another major E3 data leak, a gaming luminary says bye to the expo

ArsTechnica - Wed, 02/12/2020 - 1:11pm
Photograph of a serious man in front of a cracked E3 logo.

Enlarge / Does everyone play at E3 2020? Not Geoff Keighley. (credit: Jill Greenberg / Aurich Lawson)

While the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo is still scheduled to kick off in Los Angeles this June, the headlines surrounding the next incarnation have mostly been about who's not attending. After January's news that Sony would (once again) not attend E3, Wednesday came with confirmation of another major no-show, but it's not a game developer or a publisher; instead, it's journalist, promoter, and producer Geoff Keighley.

Gaming fans are likely familiar with Keighley's work as host of The Game Awards and various journalistic deep dives; his "Final Hours" series will emerge later this year with an insider's look at the development process of Valve's upcoming VR game Half-Life: Alyx. But in the case of E3, Keighley isn't just a guy who shows up to check out new video games. For the past few years, he's produced the E3 Coliseum series of game debuts and celebrity panels. And for over 20 years, he's organized the independent, E3-adjacent Game Critics Awards—which are a huge factor for members of E3's attending press in the West.

Some of that changes this year, according to a Wednesday statement posted to Keighley's Twitter account. After acknowledging his 25 years of E3 attendance, Keighley confirmed that he "will not be participating in E3" this year and that he "declined" to serve as producer of any E3 Coliseum-style events.

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Mobile World Congress canceled due to coronavirus [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Wed, 02/12/2020 - 12:35pm
People crowd the floor of a convention center.

Enlarge / MWC in 2017. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

[Update 2:32pm ET, February 12. 2020] Mobile World Congress 2020 (MWC) organizer the GSMA has announced that the annual technology event in Barcelona is canceled this year.

Part of the GSMA's statement on the decision says: "Global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern, and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event."

The cancellation followed news of several major exhibitors backing out due to travel restrictions and concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak in China. See below for details on that developing story.

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175 now infected with coronavirus on cruise ship, including quarantine officer

ArsTechnica - Wed, 02/12/2020 - 12:30pm
An ambulance sits in a parking lot in front of a docked cruise ship.

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

At least 175 people have contracted 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) aboard a luxury cruise ship quarantined in Japan. The latest total includes 39 newly identified cases among passengers and crew members, plus one case in a Japanese quarantine officer working on the vessel.

The outbreak on the ship Diamond Princess is the largest outside of China, where the virus is thought to have spread to people from animals in a live-animal market in the city of Wuhan, the capital city of the central Hubei Province. The virus’ jump to humans led to an explosion of disease, which, as of yesterday, February 11, the World Health Organization formally dubbed COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019.”

Since the outbreak began in December, there have been over 45,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and at least 1,115 deaths. But while 2019-nCoV has spread to at least 24 countries beyond China, nearly all of the COVID-19 cases and all but one death have occurred in China.

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Researchers entangle quantum memory at facilities over 50km apart

ArsTechnica - Wed, 02/12/2020 - 11:23am
Researchers entangle quantum memory at facilities over 50km apart

Enlarge (credit: MirageC/Getty)

While quantum computers can do interesting things without dedicated memory, memory would provide a lot of flexibility in terms of the sorts of algorithms they could run and how quantum systems can interact with each other and the outside world. Building quantum memory is extremely challenging, as reading to and writing from it both have to be extremely efficient and accurate, and the memory has to do something that's very atypical of quantum systems: hold on to its state for an appreciable length of time.

If we solve the problems, however, quantum memory offers some rather unusual properties. The process of writing to quantum memory is very similar to the process for quantum teleportation, meaning the memory can potentially be transmitted between different computing facilities. And since the storage device is a quantum object, there's the possibility that two qubits of memory in different locations can be entangled, essentially de-localizing the qubit's value and spreading it between two facilities.

In a demonstration of that promise, Chinese researchers have entangled quantum memory at facilities over 20 kilometers apart. Separately, they have also done the entanglement with photons that have traveled through 50 kilometers of optical cable. But the process of transmitting and entangling comes with an unfortunate side-effect: it takes so long that the memory typically loses its coherence in the meantime.

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