Feed aggregator

  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.

Star Citizen dev offers roadmap for development of new development roadmap

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/30/2020 - 9:31am

It has now been almost eight years since Star Citizen launched its first Kickstarter. At this point, its backers, who have given over $306 million to the game's development, should be used to the seemingly endless series of delays for its final release (while clinging hopefully to a regularly updated but very incomplete alpha version). Backers also need to summon deep reserves of patience for Squadron 42, the single-player spinoff story that was first promised for a 2015 launch.

Now, though, Star Citizen is facing apparent delays in planned updates to the system it uses to publicly track development updates.

This latest saga started in March, when developer Roberts Space Industries admitted in a forum post that its current public roadmap for Squadron 42 development was "not reflecting [the] progress" that was being made on the game.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Telegram files EU antitrust complaint against Apple’s App Store

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/30/2020 - 6:38am
Telegram files EU antitrust complaint against Apple’s App Store

Enlarge (credit: Carl Court / Getty Images)

Telegram, the messaging app, has become the latest company to file a formal antitrust complaint to the EU over Apple’s App Store.

In a complaint to EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager, Telegram, which has more than 400 million users, said Apple must “allow users to have the opportunity of downloading software outside of the App Store.”

In June, Ms Vestager announced two antitrust investigations into Apple, one of which concerned the App Store. Apple’s conflicts with developers over the rules of the App Store have also escalated recently.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ex-Google engineer Levandowski asks judge not to send him to prison

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/30/2020 - 4:42am
Anthony Levandowski exits federal court in San Jose, California, on August 27, 2019.

Enlarge / Anthony Levandowski exits federal court in San Jose, California, on August 27, 2019. (credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The federal government on Tuesday asked a federal judge to sentence Anthony Levandowski to 27 months in prison for theft of trade secrets. In March, Levandowski pled guilty to stealing a single confidential document related to Google's self-driving technology on his way out the door to his new startup. That startup was quickly acquired by Uber, triggering a titanic legal battle between the companies that was settled in 2018.

The government initially charged Levandowski with 33 counts of trade secret theft, with each count related to different confidential documents taken by Levandowski. Levandowski agreed to plead guilty to stealing one of the documents if the government dropped the other charges. It's up to Judge William Alsup to decide the appropriate punishment for Levandowski's single admitted act of trade secret theft.

While the government wants to put Levandowski behind bars for more than two years, Levandowski's lawyers are asking the judge not to send Levandowski to jail at all. They argue that a year of home confinement, along with a fine, restitution, and community service, is an adequate punishment. They note that Levandowski has suffered two bouts of pneumonia in recent years, putting him at high risk if he were to catch COVID-19 while in prison.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

NASA’s most complex, ambitious rover yet is on its way to Mars [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/30/2020 - 4:00am

Thursday 8am ET Update: An Atlas V rocket successfully launched the Mars Perseverance mission into orbit Thursday morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The rocket's upper stage has made the first of its two firings.

To achieve Earth-escape velocity, a second firing will end about 53 minutes after liftoff, after which the spacecraft will be released on its journey to Mars. It will arrive in February, at which time NASA will attempt to land its heaviest ever rover on the red planet.

Original post: NASA is about ready to send its largest and most capable rover to Mars. With a mass of 1.025 metric tons, the Perseverance rover is about 14 percent more bulky than its predecessor, Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Archaeologists find the source of Stonehenge sarsen stones

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/30/2020 - 3:45am
Prehistoric stone circle in the English countryside.

Enlarge / Feasts at nearby Durrington Walls drew attendees from all over Britain. (credit: Stefan Kühn / Wikimedia)

The huge slabs of stone that make up the most iconic structures at Stonehenge came from about 25km away, according to chemical analysis. Since the 1500s, most Stonehenge scholars have assumed the 6- to 7-meter tall, 20-metric-ton sarsen stones came from nearby Marlborough Downs, and a recent study by University of Brighton archaeologist David Nash and his colleagues has now confirmed that.

Geochemical detective work

Recent studies have traced Stonehenge’s bluestones to quarries in the Preseli Hills of western Wales, about 300km (200 miles) away. When another group of archaeologists studied the chemical isotope ratios in the cremated remains of people once buried beneath the bluestones, those researchers found that many of those people may have come from the same part of Wales between 3100 and 2400 BCE. Ancient builders set up the sarsen stones a few centuries after the arrival of the bluestones. Modern scholars have only been able to speculate about where the huge boulders came from—until now.

Sarsen, also called silcrete, is a sedimentary rock mostly made up of quartz sand cemented by silica (quartz is just silica in crystal form), formed in layers of sandy sediment. Thanks to erosion, sarsen boulders are now scattered in clumps all over southern England. Prehistoric Britons built monuments like Stonehenge and Avebury with sarsen boulders, Roman settlers used sarsen bricks to build their villas, and medieval people built sarsen churches and farm buildings. But the largest sarsen boulders we know of in Britain today are the ones at Stonehenge.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Flight Simulator hands-on: Microsoft looks different 20,000 feet in the air

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/30/2020 - 12:01am

Pilots, we thank you for choosing Ars Technica for your travel needs. Microsoft Flight Simulator's closed beta is about to take off as a prelude to its retail launch in three weeks, so we're here to talk about a few things, preflight style. Consider this your incredibly long safety manual.

First, the developers at France's Asobo Studio, who have been building this new game since 2016, have a ton of news about the game. We'll start by summing up upcoming features and third-party marketplace partners, along with the devs' perspective about what they've done since the game entered a closed alpha phase in February.

Second, we've been testing MSFS's closed alpha for months, albeit with a ridiculous series of visual watermarks that has stopped us from leaking footage of every beautiful flight across the globe. That alpha build was quite similar to what I tested in August 2019, however, which meant I didn't have much to report until a fuller update that landed roughly two weeks ago.

Read 63 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Bacteria live despite burial in seafloor mud for 100 million years

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 3:40pm
Yuki Morono of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology handles bacteria that might be 100 million years old. Be careful!

Enlarge / Yuki Morono of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology handles bacteria that might be 100 million years old. Be careful! (credit: Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology)

You know those videos where people open (or even eat?) military rations from World War II? It’s shocking to see just how well-preserved these “foods” can be after all those decades. In a way, Yuki Morono and his team of researchers at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology flipped that experience around by giving modern food to some old organisms. But their case involved bringing up ancient mud from the seafloor and adding some food to see if anything was alive in there.

There were, in fact, bacteria in the mud, which likely doesn’t sound surprising. But given the environment and the age of this stuff—100 million years—it’s actually pretty remarkable.

In deep

Life deep below ground or below the seafloor isn’t studied as well as the readily accessible surface world. Sampling has shown that seafloor mud in different parts of the ocean differ a lot in terms of the types and abundance of microbial life that are present. But in this case, the researchers sampled deep sediments in the middle of the South Pacific, where there’s extremely little organic matter available for life to grow on.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Zuckerberg wrote “Instagram can hurt us” days before acquisition

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 2:10pm
Masked legislators listen to a man on a computer screen.

Enlarge / Mark Zuckerberg speaks via videoconference during a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in Washington. (credit: Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In a 2012 email six weeks before acquiring Instagram, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote that one of his motivations for the acquisition was to "neutralize a potential competitor." The emails were revealed during today's hearing before the House antitrust committee featuring four technology moguls: Tim Cook, Sundar Pichai, Jeff Bezos, and Zuckerberg. The emails were first reported by the Verge.

Facebook was one of the Internet's biggest social networks in 2012, but its dominant position was not as secure then as it is today. There were a lot of rival social networks, and Zuckerberg worried his company would get caught flat-footed by the shift to smartphones.

Neutralizing a potential competitor?

On the evening of February 27, 2012, Zuckerberg emailed Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman about the possibility of acquiring "mobile app companies like Instagram and Path that are building networks that are competitive with our own." He worried that "if they grow to a large scale they could be very disruptive to us."

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Charter’s donations to charities and lawmakers may help it impose data caps

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 1:51pm
A Charter Spectrum service van used by a cable technician.

Enlarge / A Charter Spectrum van in West Lake Hills, Texas, in April 2019. (credit: Tony Webster / Flickr)

Nonprofits and local politicians are lining up to support a Charter Communications petition that would let the ISP impose data caps on broadband users and seek interconnection payments from large online-video providers.

Charter filed the petition with the Federal Communications Commission last month, asking the FCC to eliminate merger conditions applied to its 2016 purchase of Time Warner Cable two years early. If Charter's petition is granted, the company would be able to impose data caps on its Spectrum broadband service and charge network-interconnection fees to video providers after May 18, 2021, instead of in May 2023 as scheduled.

With the FCC seeking public comment, the docket is overwhelmingly filled with consumers urging the commission to oppose Charter's request for permission to limit consumers' data usage and charge data-overage fees. "In this age of Internet communication, data caps are an unscrupulous way to gouge money from clients, many of whom do not have alternative Internet sources. This is unacceptable," one person wrote in a sentiment echoed by hundreds of other Internet users who wrote to the FCC in the past few weeks.

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We can see the true face of Van Eyck Lamb of God after latest restoration

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 1:35pm
Early Renaissance or late Medieval painting of various figures worshipping baby Jesus.

Enlarge / The central Adoration of the Mystic Lamb panel. The groupings of figures are, from top left anti-clockwise: the male martyrs, the pagan writers and Jewish prophets, the male saints, and the female martyrs. (credit: Public domain/Wikimedia Commons)

Over the last eight years, conservationists have been meticulously restoring the famed Ghent altarpiece housed in Belgium's St Bavo's Cathedral. With the help of several advanced imaging techniques, they've been able to identify where overpainting from earlier restorations obscured the original work. Researchers at the University of Antwerp and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, have published a new paper in the journal Science Advances demonstrating how combining different techniques greatly improved their analysis, revealing previously unknown revisions to the Lamb of God figure in the inner central panel.

The Ghent Altarpiece—aka the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb—is a 15th-century polyptych attributed to brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck. Originally consisting of 12 panels, the altarpiece features two "wings" of four panels each, painted on both sides. Those wings were opened on church feast days so congregants could view the interior four central panels. The inner upper register features Christ the King, the Virgin Mary, and John the Baptist, flanked by the outer panels depicting angels and the figures of Adam and Eve. The inner lower register depicts John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. The Adoration of the Lamb comprises the center panel, featuring the Lamb of God standing on an altar in a meadow surrounded by angels, with groups of martyrs, saints, and prophets congregating around the altar.

The first significant restoration was done in 1550 to repair damage from an earlier cleaning. It was cleaned again in 1662 by the Flemish painter Antoon van den Heuvel. After the altarpiece was damaged while being stored in Austrian mines during World War II, another restoration was done in the 1950s, making use of X-ray radiography (XRR) to aid in those efforts. Specifically, the researchers imaged tiny paint samples from the cross-section of the altarpiece, yielding useful information about areas that had been over-painted during the earlier restoration, obscuring the original Eyckian work—including the Lamb's head.

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The five-year quest to remove all nuclear weapons from Metal Gear Solid V

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 1:06pm
Video game character Solid Snake, famous for violence, is shown meditating.

Enlarge / All Snake is saying is "give peace a chance." (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Nearly five years have passed since Konami started Metal Gear Solid V's nuclear-disarmament metagame, tasking the game's community with removing every single nuclear weapon created by players on the game's servers. This week, players on the PS3 version of MGSV seemed to reach that long-sought goal, unlocking a cut scene congratulating them on a day that character Master Miller says he "thought... would never come."

Now, the excited players behind the disarmament are waiting to see if Konami will officially acknowledge their achievement and perhaps unlock some long-hinted-at new content for the five-year-old game.

The long push for peace

Organized MGSV nuclear-disarmament efforts have been going in fits and starts for years, first via the now-defunct Metal Gear Philanthropy subreddit and more recently in the MetalGearAntiNuclear subreddit. There, players would join together to discuss raiding the Forward Operating Bases of nuclear-armed opponents on MGSV's online servers in order to steal and then disarm those weapons to lower the total worldwide count.

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Could we go on the offensive against emerging diseases?

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 12:35pm
Image of a mouse.

Enlarge / Could we vaccinate these guys to save us from disease? (credit: CDC.gov)

Viruses like Ebola and the original SARS have highlighted the risks that emerging diseases pose to our modern, highly connected society. While the standard approach of isolating the infected and limiting the spread of the disease worked in those cases, it works slowly enough to make many people nervous. But the global spread of Zika and SARS-CoV-2 shows that these approaches have their limits, leaving us at risk.

Is there anything else we could do? A perspective by Scott Nuismer and James Bull of the University of Idaho suggests we now have the tools to go on the offensive against viruses before they transfer to humans. The proposal: treat animal hosts of threatening viruses with virus-based vaccines that can spread through wild populations. While there are a lot of details to work out here, the article lays out how we might determine if this could be a viable approach.

Threats and their hosts

There are a huge number of hosts that share virus with our species. These range from familiar threats, like the mammals that carry the rabies virus, to our agricultural species that have spanned flu pandemics, as well as newly emerging dangers, such as hantaviruses and coronaviruses, carried by mice and a variety of species, respectively. While there's no real pattern to the species that transfer viruses to humans, there have been successful efforts to identify the hosts from which viruses originated. Nuismer and Bull highlight the PREDICT program, run by the US Agency for International Development, which identified nearly 1,000 previously uncharacterized viruses before the Trump administration terminated it in March.

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AMD: No delays for PS5, Xbox Series X, Zen 3 CPUs, and RDNA 2 GPUs

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 12:11pm
A Powerpoint-style slide.

Enlarge / This slide is a year old, but AMD CEO Lisa Su says it's still accurate—Zen 3, Big Navi, and next-gen console CPUs will all arrive on schedule later this year. (credit: AMD)

During AMD's second-quarter earnings call, CEO Lisa Su said that all of the company's upcoming 2020 product launches are still on schedule—meaning Zen 3 desktop CPUs, RDNA 2 "Big Navi" GPUs, and console hardware for the PS5 and Xbox Series X.

This is great news for consumers but bad news for Intel, which reorganized its engineering department this week shortly after admitting that we won't be seeing its 7nm desktop CPUs until late 2022 or perhaps even 2023.

This isn't quite as bad as it sounds—there's a discrepancy between the way the two companies measure process size, and transistor density for Intel's 7nm process should be roughly equivalent to AMD fab partner TSMC's 5nm process. Unfortunately, the delay means TSMC should be debuting its 3nm parts around the same time that Intel now expects to be launch its own 7nm.

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New flaw neuters Secure Boot, but there’s no reason to panic. Here’s why

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 11:59am
A cartoon worm bursts, smiling, from a motherboard.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

GRUB2, one of the world’s most-widely used programs for booting up computers, has a vulnerability that can make it easier for attackers to run malicious firmware during startup, researchers said on Wednesday. This would affect millions or possibly hundreds of millions of machines. While GRUB2 is mainly used in computers running Linux, attacks that exploit the vulnerability can be performed on many PCs running Windows as well.

The vulnerability, discovered by researchers from security firm Eclypsium, poses yet another serious threat to UEFI Secure Boot, an industry-wide standard that uses cryptographic signatures to ensure that software used during startup is trusted by a computer's manufacturer. Secure Boot was designed to prevent attackers from hijacking the boot process by replacing the intended software with malicious software.

Stealthier, more powerful, and hard to disinfect

So-called bootkits are among the most serious types of infections because they run at the lowest level of the software stack. That allows the malware to be stealthier than most malware, survive operating system reinstallations, and circumvent security protections built into the OS.

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Kia denies report that the Soul EV is cancelled for America

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 11:11am
The words

Enlarge (credit: Jonathan Gitlin/Aurich Lawson)

Korean OEMs seem to have figured out how to make good electric vehicles. The cars are well-made and offer better efficiency than anyone other than Tesla, which is why it only took an hour's test drive for the Kia Soul EV to make it to my "top 10 for 2019" list. We got that opportunity because Kia rustled up a single Soul EV to last year's World Car Awards test drive event: the electric "boar with a backpack" was in the running for (and won) World Urban Car of 2019. Which is why I read a report over at Roadshow with such alarm this morning.

According to an unnamed source, Roadshow reported that Kia has decided not to import the Soul EV to these shores, due to stiff demand for the BEV elsewhere and a limited supply of lithium-ion. As evidence for this cancellation, Roadshow points to the fact that there is now no longer an entry for the MY2020 Soul EV on the EPA's fuel economy website.

However, Kia has told Ars that it has not made any official announcement, "other than there are no pending plans to introduce before 2021 at the earliest." This suggests to us that, in fact, the box-like BEV is probably still US-bound but delayed by a year. That's obviously not great for those of us who want to see more EVs replace conventionally powered cars, but given the perilous situation in the United States thanks to an uncontrolled pandemic, it's also somewhat understandable.

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Google wants Samsung to kill Bixby, Galaxy App Store

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 10:20am
A hand holds a smartphone.

Enlarge / Bixby on the Galaxy S9. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Reuters and Bloomberg are both independently reporting that Google is pushing Samsung to back away from its duplicate Android ecosystem and promote Google apps instead. A "correspondence" between the two companies was seen by both sites, which saw Google push Samsung to promote the Play Store and Google Assistant over the Galaxy App Store and Samsung's Bixby assistant. Google was apparently willing to open its wallet and pay Samsung to make it happen.

Bloomberg's interpretation of the negotiations is pretty vague, saying the deal "would promote Google's digital assistant and Play Store for apps on [Samsung] devices." The later Reuters report is a lot more specific, saying Samsung is "considering dropping its Bixby virtual assistant and Galaxy Apps Store from its mobile devices." Reuters goes on to say that "Google is dangling more lucrative terms for Samsung than in previous deals if it retreats from its app strategy." Part of Google's immense web of Android protection is sharing ad revenue and Play Store app revenue with phone manufacturers, and offering Samsung a higher share is an easy way to bribe the South Korean company into submission.

Whether Samsung would actually be willing to kill Bixby and the Galaxy App store is up in the air. Samsung has invested piles of money in Bixby since its launch in 2017, but Bixby hasn't been very successful. Samsung acquired the assistant startup Viv Labs, which was founded by the creators of Siri, and put the company to work improving Bixby. But Samsung's voice assistant still can't hang in the same crowd as the Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, and Amazon Alexa.

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Judge orders New York to pay unemployment to Uber and Lyft drivers

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 9:34am
Judge orders New York to pay unemployment to Uber and Lyft drivers

Enlarge (credit: Smith Collection/Gado | Getty)

A federal judge has ordered the state of New York to quickly pay unemployment benefits to four Uber and Lyft drivers who have been waiting for the payments since March or April. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which filed a lawsuit over the issue back in May, says that the ruling could ultimately help thousands of drivers in similar situations.

Uber and Lyft have long argued that its drivers are independent contractors, not employees. That stance has come under increasing pressure. Since 2016, the New York Department of Labor has held that ride-hail drivers were employees for purposes of unemployment insurance. But Uber and Lyft have dragged their feet, failing to provide wage data that would enable the agency to calculate unemployment payments for each worker.

As a result, when Uber and Lyft drivers forced out of work by the pandemic applied for unemployment benefits, some were told that they weren't eligible because state data showed them with zero earnings. Workers continued to be denied benefits even after they submitted 1099 tax forms showing their earnings.

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TikTok chief Kevin Mayer launches stinging attack on Facebook

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 6:53am
Visitors visit the booth of Douyin (TikTok) at the 2019 smart expo in Hangzhou, China, Oct. 18, 2019.

Enlarge / Visitors visit the booth of Douyin (TikTok) at the 2019 smart expo in Hangzhou, China, Oct. 18, 2019. (credit: Costfoto | Barcroft Media | Getty Images)

Kevin Mayer, the chief executive of TikTok, has accused Facebook of trying to destroy the Chinese app’s US business by smearing it with “maligning attacks.”

In his first public comments since joining TikTok from Disney, Mr. Mayer issued an 800-word defense of the viral video app, which is under pressure from US regulators and may even be banned by the White House.

Without TikTok, he said, American advertisers “would again be left with few choices”. He described Instagram Reels, a new video service from Facebook that will launch in the US in early August, as a “copycat product” and noted that a similar service from Facebook called Lasso had “failed quickly”.

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North Korea’s Lazarus brings state-sponsored hacking approach to ransomware

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/29/2020 - 4:52am
North Korea’s Lazarus brings state-sponsored hacking approach to ransomware

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Lazarus—the North Korean state hacking group behind the WannaCry worm, the theft of $81 million from a Bangladesh bank, and the attacks on Sony Pictures—is looking to expand into the ransomware craze, according to researchers from Kaspersky Lab.

Like many of Lazarus’ early entries, the VHD ransomware is crude. It took the malware 10 hours to fully infect one target’s network. It also uses some unorthodox cryptographic practices that aren’t “semantically secure,” because patterns of the original files remain after they’re encrypted. The malware also appears to have taken hold of one victim through a chance infection of its virtual private network.

In short, VHD is no Ryuk or WastedLocker. Both are known as “big game hunters” because they target networks belonging to organizations with deep pockets and, after gaining entry, strike only after doing days or weeks of painstaking surveillance.

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Mounting poisonings, blindness, deaths as toxic hand sanitizers flood market

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/28/2020 - 3:32pm
A gloved hand dispenses goo into an open bare hand.

Enlarge / Hand sanitizer being applied to a person's hand. (credit: Getty | Leopoldo Smith)

The Food and Drug Administration is renewing warnings this week of dangerous hand sanitizers as it continues to find products that contain toxic methanol—a poisonous alcohol that can cause systemic effects, blindness, and death.

The agency’s growing “do-not-use list” of dangerous sanitizers now includes 87 products (See the full list here). And with the mounting tally, the FDA also says there are rising reports from state health departments and poison control centers of injuries and deaths.

“We remain extremely concerned about the potential serious risks of alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing methanol,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn in a statement.

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