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.

The feds just blessed a custom self-driving vehicle for the first time

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 5:30am
Promotional image of a self-driving, no-passenger vehicle on a sedate urban street.

Enlarge / The new Nuro R2. (credit: Nuro)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday officially signed off on a new self-driving vehicle from the delivery startup Nuro. It's a historic move; Nuro says it's the first time NHTSA has exempted a self-driving vehicle from regulatory requirements that apply to conventional vehicles.

Nuro's new delivery vehicle, the R2, looks a lot like its predecessor, the R1. Nuro has partnerships with Walmart, Domino's, and Kroger, and it has been using R1 robots to deliver groceries, pizza, and other products in the Phoenix and Houston areas since late 2018. But the R2 comes with some key improvements. The cargo area is significantly larger without increasing the overall size of the vehicle. And the R2—unlike the R1—has the ability to heat and cool the compartments to keep products at the perfect temperature.

The R2 is also notable for the features it doesn't have.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Rocket Report: Starship may launch this spring, rideshare wars heat up

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 5:00am
A Falcon 9 rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Enlarge / A Falcon 9 rocket launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (credit: SpaceX)

Welcome to Edition 2.31 of the Rocket Report! It's exciting to think that two smallsat launch companies could put rockets into space within the coming weeks—both Astra and Virgin Orbit—and we've got updates on both below. Also making the news this week is a SpaceX application to the Federal Communications Commission for a Starship flight.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Astra says failure is an option. After operating in stealth mode for a little more than three years, the Alameda, California-based rocket company has revealed its intentions. Among the crowd of would-be small-satellite launch vehicles, Astra stands out for several reasons: it is moving fast, aims to be insanely cheap, and is rigorously following an iterative design process. Perhaps most importantly, the company is willing to fail.

Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

HAMR don’t hurt ’em—laser-assisted hard drives are coming in 2020

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/07/2020 - 4:45am

Hard drive manufacturer Seagate promises that HAMR—Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording—hard drives in 18TB and 20TB models will be available in retail channels in 2020. The new drives use a medium that is less magnetically malleable at standard operating temperature than CMR (Conventional Magnetic Recording) media and, therefore, needs to be briefly and locally heated with a laser as data is written onto the media.

Seagate has been working on HAMR for a long time; the company's first big press release about the technology came in 2002. The promise has always been the same—higher areal densities, meaning more bits stored per square inch, with higher stability of data once written. The projected densities themselves have increased over the years, though—when Ars Technica first reported on Seagate and HAMR in 2012, the company was promising 6TB HAMR drives were just around the corner.

Although the 2012 "just around the corner" HAMR drives seem to have been mostly vapor, the technology is a reality now. Seagate has been trialing 16TB HAMR drives with select customers for more than a year and claims that the trials have proved that its HAMR drives are "plug and play replacements" for traditional CMR drives, requiring no special care and having no particular poor use cases compared to the drives we're all used to.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New estimate of how much thawing permafrost will worsen warming

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 3:07pm
Satellite photo of lakes.

Enlarge / These little round jewels near the Siberian coast are thermokarst lakes, formed when pockets of thawing permafrost deflate as the ice disappears. (credit: NASA EO)

Arctic permafrost has long had a sort of “here there be dragons” status when it comes to climate change. The thawing of permafrost represents a positive feedback that amplifies warming by releasing more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. But characterizing plausible future scenarios in which that release takes place hasn’t been easy.

Making careful measurements of local permafrost thawing has enabled scientists to simulate the general behavior and incorporate that into models. So far, however, those models have been limited to the gradual change that occurs as warming temperatures allow the thawing to reach slightly greater depths each successive summer. But a new study led by Merritt Turetsky at the University of Colorado, Boulder, simulates something different, based on a recent data-gathering effort: abrupt-thaw processes.

Sudden change

Abrupt thaw can occur in a few different ways but generally relates to pockets of permafrost with a larger percentage of ice inside. If that ice melts, the soil will deflate and collapse. On hillsides, soil may slump downslope or create a new drainage gully. And in low-lying areas, it can create a new wetland or lake as water fills the depression. Both situations can accelerate thaw and carbon-release processes greatly.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Hell freezes over as Netflix finally lets users turn off autoplaying previews

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 2:49pm

Netflix giveth and Netflix taketh away. It giveth rad '80s hairdos with Stranger Things; it taketh critical thinking skills with Goop. One of its worst "gifts," however, has been the autoplaying previews—with sound!—that burst forth from your TV screen like a Ridley Scott alien if you dare to leave a selection highlighted for more than a moment. Today, that's changing with a new option in your Netflix settings.

This may not sound like a serious problem in the grand scheme of national and universal problems, but it remains deeply annoying. Many have been the times that my family wrapped up a Sunday night episode of The Great British Baking Show only to have some wildly inappropriate-for-families preview clip begin to play. ("Daddy, what does 'Don't F*** With Cats' mean?")

Netflix was so proud of this autoplay-with-sound achievement that, in a 2016 press release, it talked up its "new television user interface that uses video more extensively to bring content alive in real time and helps members decide whether to click play." For Netflix, this was great because it led to more people watching more content. Which it probably did! I certainly tried a few things I would not have tried otherwise. But there was no way to turn it off; I soon felt nearly assaulted by the Netflix app running on my Roku.

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Starliner faced “catastrophic” failure before software bug found

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 2:39pm
Boeing, NASA, and U.S. Army personnel work around the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft shortly after it landed in December.

Enlarge / Boeing, NASA, and U.S. Army personnel work around the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft shortly after it landed in December. (credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

During its quarterly meeting on Thursday, NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel dropped some significant news about a critical commercial crew test flight. The panel revealed that Boeing's Starliner may have been lost during a December mission had a software error not been found and fixed while the vehicle was in orbit.

The software issue was identified during testing on the ground after Starliner's launch, said panel member Paul Hill, a former flight director and former director of mission operations at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The problem would have interfered with the service module's (SM) separation from the Starliner capsule.

"While this anomaly was corrected in flight, if it had gone uncorrected it would have led to erroneous thruster firing and uncontrolled motion during SM separation for deorbit, with the potential for catastrophic spacecraft failure," Hill said during the meeting.

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SpaceX plans likely spinoff and IPO for Starlink broadband division

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 2:30pm
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching into the sky.

Enlarge / A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 60 Starlink satellites launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on January 29, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | SOPA Images )

SpaceX is likely to spin out its Starlink broadband business, SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell said today at an investor event.

"Right now, we are a private company, but Starlink is the right kind of business that we can go ahead and take public," Shotwell said at the event, according to a Bloomberg article. "That particular piece is an element of the business that we are likely to spin out and go public."

While CEO Elon Musk has kept SpaceX private, a Starlink public offering would "giv[e] investors a chance to buy into one of the most promising operations within the closely held company," Bloomberg wrote.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google Play apps with 470k installs can log in to your Facebook and Google accounts

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 2:10pm
Google Play apps with 470k installs can log in to your Facebook and Google accounts

Enlarge (credit: portal gda / flickr)

Researchers on Thursday documented two new malware campaigns targeting Android users.

The first involved nine apps that had been downloaded from Google Play more than 470,000 times. With names such as Speed Clean and Super Clean, the apps masqueraded as utilities for optimizing device performance. Behind the scenes, they connected to servers that could download as many as 3,000 different malware variants on compromised devices. Once installed, the apps could log in to users’ Facebook and Google accounts to perform ad fraud. A second, unrelated campaign used cleverly crafted phishing emails to trick users into installing one of the nastiest pieces of malware targeting the Android OS (more about that later).

Not the Play Protect you’re looking for

Once installed, the apps posing as optimizer utilities connected to an attacker-controlled server that’s capable of downloading other malicious apps that perform a variety of fraudulent tasks, including:

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

First clinical trial of gene editing to help target cancer

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 1:57pm
A cartoon diagram of three strands of DNA interacting.

Enlarge / The process of repairing the damage cause by CRISPR can cause complicated DNA rearrangements. (credit: Lawrence Berkeley Lab)

The ability to edit genes has raised the prospect of treating genetic conditions and arming the body to better handle infectious diseases and cancers. But for that potential to be realized, we need to deal with a variety of safety issues and work out the ethics of when the technology is appropriate to use.

Today, scientists are releasing the results of a clinical trial designed to test the safety of gene editing as a way of fighting cancer. The results are promising, in that a version of the CRISPR gene-editing system that's already a few years out of date appears to be safe when used to direct immune cells to attack cancer. But the cancers that it was meant to treat simply evolved ways of slipping past immune surveillance.

Editing genes to fight cancer

While there have been a number of gene-editing systems developed, CRISPR/CAS9 is currently the most flexible and efficient. It creates cuts in specific DNA sequences, directed to the sequence by a short piece of RNA. The normal cellular process of repairing these cuts often results in small deletions, which can knock out any genes affected. Alternately, if a replacement sequence is made available, the repair can incorporate the replacement, thus altering the targeted sequence. Either of these, however, can sometimes cause problems by cutting at related sequences or when the repair process accidentally creates large rearrangements.

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The Big Lebowski’s Jesus Quintana is back in first trailer for The Jesus Rolls

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 1:30pm

John Turturro wrote, directed, and stars in The Jesus Rolls.

Purple-clad bowling sensation Jesus Quintana is out of prison and ready for a kinky epic road-trip adventure in the first trailer for The Jesus Rolls, written by, directed by, and starring John Turturro. The film is being touted as a sequel to the Coen brothers' 1998 cult film The Big Lebowski, but in truth the only shared factor is Quintana's character. It's really a remake of the controversial 1974 French film Going Places, which was directed by Bertrand Blier and starred a young Gérard Depardieu.

(Mildest of spoilers for The Big Lebowski below; some spoilers for the 1974 film Going Places.)

When the Coen brothers released their quirky crime comedy in 1998, it received mixed reviews and grossed a modest $46.7 million globally against its $15 million budget. But The Big Lebowski has since achieved cult status, thanks in large part to Jeff Bridges' winsome portrayal of stoner/amateur philosopher Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski and the catchphrase "the Dude abides." There's an annual Lebowski Fest held in various cities, a Church of the Latter-Day Dude, and Bridges even appeared in character last year for a Super Bowl ad for Stella Artois beer.

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3,700 trapped aboard cruise ship after coronavirus embarks

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 1:10pm
A huge luxury cruise ship sits in port.

Enlarge / YOKOHAMA, Feb. 6, 2020: Diamond Princess, a cruise ship which has been kept in quarantine at the port of Yokohama in Japan. (credit: Getty | Xinhua News Agency )

Over 3,700 people on a luxury cruise ship now docked in Yokohama, Japan, are trapped aboard, with guests confined to their cabins for the remainder of 14-day quarantine after the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) joined them at sea.

According to reports from Japan, health officials there conducted the “first phase” of screening this week, testing 273 people aboard the liner—named Diamond Princess—for the viral respiratory infection, which is currently causing an explosive outbreak in China.

On Tuesday, February 4, officials confirmed that 10 people had tested positive, including two Australian guests, three Japanese guests, three guests from Hong Kong, one American guest, and one Filipino crew member. They were escorted off the ship for treatment at local hospitals. None of the cases are serious, Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Katō said.

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Apple will introduce universal app purchases for iOS and macOS

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 12:55pm
Twitter returned to the Mac via Apple's Project Catalyst.

Enlarge / Twitter returned to the Mac via Apple's Project Catalyst. (credit: Apple)

When Apple introduced Catalyst, its developers' toolkit for porting iOS and iPadOS apps to macOS, developers and users alike were quick to point out that they'd like to see universal iOS/macOS app purchases in the App Store. Now, Apple has told developers it plans to add that feature in March, along with a few changes to the App Store to accompany it.

The company will give third-party app developers the capability to distribute macOS, iOS, and tvOS apps as a universal purchase from a single bundle ID starting sometime in March of this year. Unified purchases can also apply to in-app purchases (IAP).

"You can choose to create a new app for these platforms using a single app record in App Store Connect or add platforms to your existing app record," Apple wrote in a note to developers. All of this requires the Xcode 11.4 beta at the moment, however.

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FCC data fails to count 21 million people without broadband, study finds

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 12:36pm
A US map with lines and dots representing broadband access.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | imaginima)

The Federal Communications Commission's broadband data dramatically underestimates the number of Americans without access to home Internet service, a new study has found. The actual number of people lacking home-broadband access is about twice as high as the FCC estimate, the study found.

The FCC has said that 21.3 million Americans live in areas without access to fixed broadband with 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds. But FCC data is widely known to be flawed, because it counts an entire census block as served even if only one home in the census block can get service. Census blocks have an average of 4,000 residents.

The real number of Americans without access to wired or fixed wireless broadband is 42.8 million, slightly more than double the FCC estimate, according to the study released yesterday. The study was conducted by BroadbandNow, a company that provides an online tool for checking broadband availability.

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The 2020 Hyundai Sonata now gets a 52mpg hybrid version

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 12:21pm

It feels like the auto industry only cares about building big SUVs, but if you know where to look, there are still good sedans out there among the bluff-nosed behemoths. The current Honda Accord, for example, proves you can get a good midsized sedan without breaking the bank, as does Hyundai's latest Sonata. On Thursday morning at the Chicago Auto Show, Hyundai announced the latest addition to the Sonata line-up—a 52mpg* hybrid version, which goes on sale later this spring.

The MY2020 Sonata Hybrid combines a 2.0L, 150hp (112kW), 139lb-ft (188Nm) direct-injection gasoline engine with a 51hp (39kW), 151lb-ft (205Nm) electric motor, for a combined output of 192hp (143kW). That power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission, and in the more efficient Blue trim level, it should return a combined 52mpg (50 city, 54 highway) when the EPA rates it, Hyundai says. The SEL and Limited trims are expected to come in at 45/51/47mpg (city/highway/combined).

In part, that's thanks to a slippery 0.24 drag coefficient (Cd), made possible by a Hybrid-specific front grille that has active flaps that blank off openings when possible, plus a rear spoiler and particularly aerodynamic wheels. There's also some new control logic for the six-speed transmission (Hyundai is calling this Active Shift Control), which it says "aligns the electric motor with the rotational speeds of the engine and transmission to reduce gear shifts by 30 percent."

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Dealmaster: Our favorite Thunderbolt 3 dock is down to its lowest price yet

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 12:05pm
 Our favorite Thunderbolt 3 dock is down to its lowest price yet

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Heading up today's Dealmaster is a new low price for our current top pick among Thunderbolt 3 docks, the CalDigit TS3 Plus. It's currently down to $230 on Amazon, which is a roughly $50 drop from its usual going rate over the past few months.

We like the TS3 Plus for offering a wide variety of ports in a relatively compact design. It comes with two high-speed Thunderbolt 3 ports, five USB-A 3.1 ports, USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2 ports, a DisplayPort 1.2, an SD card reader, analog audio connectors, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, and an uncommon S/PDIF digital optical audio port. Its data transfer speeds are among the fastest we've tested, it can drive up to two 4K displays at 60Hz, and it can charge newer MacBook Pros at close to full speeds. If you're a power user who often needs to connect various peripherals to your computer, the TS3 Plus should give you all the performance and connectivity you need.

If you don't need a full-on Thunderbolt 3 dock, though, we also have deals on wireless chargers, Dell and Lenovo laptops, the PlayStation 4 Pro, and more. Have a look at our full list below.

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What it takes to get a hate page off Facebook: A letter from the state AG

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 11:54am
The Facebook app displayed on the screen of an iPhone.

Enlarge / The Facebook app displayed on the screen of an iPhone. (credit: Fabian Sommer | picture alliance | Getty Images)

Almost a year after state officials formally asked Facebook to take action to remove a racist and anti-Semitic group page, the globe-spanning social network has finally taken the page down.

The offices of New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy acknowledged Facebook's action against the page, "Rise Up Ocean County," in a joint announcement Wednesday.

State officials first expressed concern to Facebook about the page in a letter sent ten months ago, they write. "Since then, we've consistently and repeatedly made clear our view that the page appeared to violate Facebook's terms of service, and we appreciate that Facebook has now decided that this kind of hateful rhetoric has no place on its platform."

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Google Maps gets new icon, tweaked UI for 15th birthday

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 10:01am

Google Maps is turning 15 this year, and Google is celebrating with a new icon and a few UI tweaks.

First, the Google Maps icon is no longer, well, a map and is now a multi-colored map pin. Like all of Google's other recent icons, Maps' icon follows a formula of outfitting a simple shape or letter with the colors red, blue, green, and yellow and calling it a day. You can expect this new icon to pop up on your phone sometime soon.

The bottom tab navigation is going to switch from three tabs to five, with new tabs for "Saved" (Saved places), "Contribute," and "Updates." None of these sections really represents new features, they just used to live in the left-side navigation drawer and now they have top-level access via the tab bar. Speaking of the left-side navigation drawer, the hamburger button that used to open it is dead. Presumably, the settings and other miscellaneous menu options will live under the account switcher, accessible via your profile picture on the right side of the search bar.

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Downloading public court documents costs a dime a page—is that legal?

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 9:09am
Chief Justice John Roberts.

Enlarge / Chief Justice John Roberts did not actually use PACER fees to buy a new chair. That's just a hypothetical example. (credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

If you need documents from federal court cases, you're in luck. Almost every brief, exhibit, and legal ruling is available for download from the judiciary's PACER website. But there's a catch: documents cost 10 cents a page.

In 2016, three nonprofit organizations, the National Veterans Legal Services Program, the National Consumer Law Center, and the Alliance for Justice sued the federal courts—in federal court. The class action lawsuit, filed on behalf of all fee-paying PACER users, argued that these hefty charges were illegal. Federal law allows the courts to charge fees "only to the extent necessary" to provide public access to information. Over the last 15 years, the cost of storage and bandwidth has plunged. Yet PACER's fees have actually risen from 7 cents to 10 cents. These fees have raised far more money than it costs to run the PACER system: $146 million in 2016 alone.

In a 2018 ruling, Judge Ellen Huvelle largely agreed with the plaintiffs, concluding that the courts are breaking the law by spending PACER money on non-PACER projects like installing flat-screen TVs in courtrooms and sending electronic notifications to bankruptcy creditors. On Monday, the case reached the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, where three judges heard oral arguments from each side. Judges seemed skeptical of the arguments of government lawyers representing the judiciary.

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How fast are your disks? Find out the open source way, with fio

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 6:55am
Ars Technica does not recommend removing the protective cover from your hard disk or setting it on fire in production settings.

Enlarge / Ars Technica does not recommend removing the protective cover from your hard disk or setting it on fire in production settings. (credit: William Warby)

Storage benchmarking—much like Wi-Fi benchmarking—is a widely misunderstood black art. Admins and enthusiasts have for decades been tempted to just "get the big number" by reading or writing a large amount of data to a disk, getting a figure in MB/sec, and calling it a day. Unfortunately, the actual workload of a typical disk doesn't look like that—and that "simple speed test" doesn't reproduce a lot of the bottlenecks that slow down disk access in real-world systems.

The most realistic way to test and benchmark disks is, of course, to just use them and see what happens. Unfortunately, that's neither very repeatable, nor is it simple to analyze. So we do want an artificial benchmarking tool—but we want one that we can use intelligently to test storage systems across realistic scenarios that model our day-to-day usage well. Fortunately, we don't have to invent such a tool—there's already a free and open source software tool called fio, and it's even cross-platform!

We're going to walk you through some simple but effective uses of fio on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers—but before we do that, let's talk a little bit about storage systems from a more basic perspective.

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At Astra, failure is an option

ArsTechnica - Thu, 02/06/2020 - 6:00am

ALAMEDA, Calif.—Toward the end of an interview on Tuesday morning, Adam London finally came out and admitted it. “Honestly, we’re building a pretty boring rocket.”

This is by design, of course. His company Astra, which just emerged from stealth mode this week, does not want to build the sleekest or most modern of rockets. Rather, says London (the company’s co-founder and chief technology officer), Astra seeks to deliver the most bang for the buck to customers. To that end, Astra has developed a no-frills launch system. Even the company’s name for its newest rocket, "Rocket 3.0," lacks pizzazz.

“This is not about making the best, most sexy rocket,” London said in a small conference room at the company’s headquarters in Alameda, California. “We want to make the simplest, most manufacturable rocket.”

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