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.

This farmer’s field was once a powerful stronghold in Iron Age Norway

ArsTechnica - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 6:15am
This farmer’s field was once a powerful stronghold in Iron Age Norway

Enlarge

In June, archaeologists began unearthing a Viking ship from a farmer’s field in eastern Norway. The 1,000- to 1,200-year-old ship was probably the grave of a local king or jarl, and it once lay beneath a monumental burial mound. A 2018 ground-penetrating radar survey of a site called Gjellestad, on the fertile coastal plain of Vikiletta, revealed the buried ship.

The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, or NIKU, announced the ship find in 2018, and it announced earlier in 2020 that excavations would begin over the summer to save the vessel from wood-eating fungus. NIKU archaeologist Lars Gustavsen and his colleagues’ recent study is the first academic publication of the survey results, and it includes the previously announced Gjellestad ship burial as well as the other ancient tombs and buildings. In the recently published paper, the radar images reveal the ghosts of an ancient landscape surrounding the royal tomb: farmhouses, a feasting hall, and centuries of burial mounds.

All together, the buried structures suggest that over several centuries, from at least 500 BCE to 1000 CE, an ordinary coastal farming settlement somehow grew into an important seat of power on the cusp of the Viking Age.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Hackers can use just-fixed Intel bugs to install malicious firmware on PCs

ArsTechnica - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 5:45am
Hackers can use just-fixed Intel bugs to install malicious firmware on PCs

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

As the amount of sensitive data stored on computers has exploded over the past decade, hardware and software makers have invested increasing amounts of resources into securing devices against physical attacks in the event that they’re lost, stolen, or confiscated. Earlier this week, Intel fixed a series of bugs that made it possible for attackers to install malicious firmware on millions of computers that use its CPUs.

The vulnerabilities allowed hackers with physical access to override a protection Intel built into modern CPUs that prevents unauthorized firmware from running during the boot process. Known as Boot Guard, the measure is designed to anchor a chain of trust directly into the silicon to ensure that all firmware that loads is digitally signed by the computer manufacturer. Boot Guard protects against the possibility of someone tampering with the SPI-connected flash chip that stores the UEFI, which is a complex piece of firmware that bridges a PC’s device firmware with its operating system.

Hardware-enforced security

These types of hacks typically happen when attackers attach hardware to the insides of a computer and use Dediprog or similar chip programming tools to replace authorized firmware with malicious firmware.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

We’ll need more than one vaccine to beat the pandemic

ArsTechnica - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 5:17am
Close-up photograph of a gloved hand holding a tiny bottle of clear liquid.

Enlarge / A medical worker holds a bottle of a candidate COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University that is being tested in a trial in Soweto, South Africa. (credit: Getty | Gallo Images)

On Monday, a press release from the transnational pharmaceutical company Pfizer dropped a rare spark of hope into the ongoing misery of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, new infections have hit an all-time high in the United States, and, yes, cities and states around the world are walking back their reopenings. But Pfizer says it has results from a massive clinical trial showing that its vaccine against the disease works, and works well. The release touted “a vaccine efficacy rate above 90 percent,” and it announced the company’s intention to seek from the US Food and Drug Administration an authorization to start giving people shots. The company’s ready to make 50 million doses this year and 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

That’s an ember of hope, but it’s sitting under a bucket of cold water, ready to pour. The Pfizer vaccine is finicky—hard to make, transport, and deliver. Because of desperate need, it’s in short supply even before it becomes available—1.3 billion doses is several billion short of what the world needs. The press release wasn’t peer-reviewed science, and it lacked critical details about how the vaccine works and on whom. Even the simple fact of this vaccine’s existence, some analysts have argued, might jeopardize the testing and success of potentially better vaccines down the line, a case of the imperfect being the enemy of the good.

Before the ember dies out completely, here’s a theory: no. The Pfizer vaccine’s imperfections make it a perfect prime mover, because if it works as well as the company says, it’ll help people now and require research into more, better, different vaccines for later. All the things nobody knows about the Pfizer vaccine mean that the door is wide open. “Whether its effects are durable, whether it’s effective in the elderly, whether it has safety issues, the cold chain issues, the ability to have access,” says Wayne Koff, president and CEO of the nonprofit Human Vaccines Project, “all that points to the need for a number of vaccines.”

Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Fireball is Werner Herzog’s ode to space rocks

ArsTechnica - Sat, 11/14/2020 - 5:01am
<em>Fireball</em> is now available on Apple TV+.

Enlarge / Fireball is now available on Apple TV+. (credit: Apple)

The Ramgarh Crater in northern India was formed millions of years ago when a large meteorite crashed into Earth. But it wasn’t until the 19th century that scientists began to believe it was an impact basin. From the ground, it’s difficult to assess that it's a crater. The thing is just too big to take in all at once. Yet the cluster of temples in the center of Ramgarh suggests ancient cultures recognized there was something special about the place, even if they had no way of knowing it was formed by a rock from outer space. Examining the effects of meteorites is always scientific, but it’s often spiritual, too, and it’s the tension between those two disciplines that drives Fireball.

Written and directed by Werner Herzog, the documentary aims to make sense of extraterrestrial geology, to trace all the ways meteorites have made impressions far beyond the edges of any individual crater. Herzog and his co-director, Cambridge University volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer, interview boffins geeking out over meteorites in their lab, of course, but also a jazz musician prowling for micrometeorites on the rooftops of Oslo, an indigenous painter chronicling otherworldly stories in the outback of Australia, and a Jesuit priest keeping vigil over a meteorite collection in a secluded European observatory. “Every stone has its own separate story,” Herzog says.

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Hackers sponsored by Russia and North Korea are targeting COVID-19 researchers

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 4:51pm
Hackers sponsored by Russia and North Korea are targeting COVID-19 researchers

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Hackers sponsored by the Russian and North Korean governments have been targeting companies directly involved in researching vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, and in some cases, the attacks have succeeded, Microsoft said on Friday.

In all, there are seven prominent companies that have been targeted, Microsoft Corporate VP for Customer Security & Trust Tom Burt said. They include vaccine-makers with COVID-19 vaccines in various clinical trial stages, a clinical research organization involved in trials, and a developer of a COVID-19 test. Also targeted were organizations with contracts with or investments from governmental agencies around the world for COVID-19-related work. The targets are located in the US, Canada, France, India, and South Korea.

“Microsoft is calling on the world’s leaders to affirm that international law protects health care facilities and to take action to enforce the law,” Burt wrote in a blog post. “We believe the law should be enforced not just when attacks originate from government agencies but also when they originate from criminal groups that governments enable to operate—or even facilitate—within their borders. This is criminal activity that cannot be tolerated.”

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Vaccine czar calls on Trump to allow contact with Biden

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 3:21pm
President Donald Trump listens as Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKlines vaccines division, speaks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / President Donald Trump listens as Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKlines vaccines division, speaks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. (credit: Drew Angerer | Getty Images)

The head of Donald Trump’s flagship vaccine project has called on the White House to allow Operation Warp Speed to make contact with Joe Biden’s transition team, warning that interrupting its work would put thousands of lives at risk.

Moncef Slaoui, a veteran pharmaceuticals executive who was appointed by Mr. Trump to accelerate the hunt for a vaccine, told the Financial Times he wanted to make sure his project continued operating without impediment during the transfer of power.

The comments from Mr. Slaoui, whose project is overseeing the development of five potential vaccines, come as the president faces pressure to concede defeat and allow a transition to the Biden administration to begin.

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Ubisoft Montreal staffers barricade on roof, escorted out by police [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 12:40pm
Ubisoft Montreal staffers barricade on roof, escorted out by police [Updated]

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images / Ubisoft / Aurich Lawson)

Update, 7:15pm EST: The 911 call that set the police response in motion was a hoax, the CBC reports. Montreal police confirmed only that the police operation is over, with no threat detected and no injuries reported. "An investigation will follow to shed light on the call behind this important police force deployment," the SPVM added.

Ubisoft issued statement around 7:30pm Eastern Time saying that the company was "relieved" all of its staff in Ubisoft Montreal were safely evacuated. "We commend the strength and solidarity of all of our team members in this complex and stressful situation," the company added. "We are grateful for the prompt response of the police and local authorities. We will continue to provide our teams with all the necessary support to cope with this traumatic event."

Original story 2:40pm EST:

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Cruise line resumed voyages in Caribbean. It’s not going well [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 12:30pm
A relatively small luxury liner sails past a city at night.

Enlarge / The SeaDream I ship is pictured on early August 5, 2020, at Bodo harbor in Norway. (credit: Getty | SONDRE SKJELVIK)

Update 11/13/2020 2:30pm EST: Testing by Barbados authorities has confirmed seven cases of coronavirus infections among passengers on the ship, according to Gene Sloan, a cruise reporter who is on board and in quarantine. That's about 13 percent of the 53 passengers on board. Five of the cases are all part of the same traveling party. The remaining two are a husband and wife, not traveling with the five other cases. All of the cases came to light after a member of the party of five developed symptoms and tested positive on Wednesday. This prompted the ship to go into lockdown and begin testing all 119 on board. So far, all other passengers and crew on board have tested negative.

Sloan reports that the seven infected passengers will be moved from the ship to an isolation facility in Barbados. The remaining passengers who have tested negative might be able to leave the ship later Friday or Saturday and board flights back to their home countries. The 53 passengers include 37 Americans, as well as passengers from the UK, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany, according to Sloan.

Update 11/12/2020 9:20pm EST: Earlier this evening, the ship's captain, Torbjorn Lund, announced the possibility of a sixth case in a person who was not in the same traveling group as the five other cases. Lund said that the latest case was detected by a rapid test done on board, and crew were awaiting results of testing done by Barbados officials to confirm the case. If the positive test is confirmed, it would suggest that the coronavirus has spread beyond the initial cluster on the ship. The cruise reporter on the ship, Gene Sloan, said officials were now discussing plans for people who have tested negative to disembark. Sloan noted that his rapid test on the ship was negative, and he's awaiting results from testing done by Barbados officials, which are expected early Friday.

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Broadband power users explode, making data caps more profitable for ISPs

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:59am
An illustration of $100 bills being sucked into an Internet connection.

Data cap cash. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

The number of broadband "power users"—people who use 1TB or more per month—has doubled over the past year, ensuring that ISPs will be able to make more money from data caps.

In Q3 2020, 8.8 percent of broadband subscribers used at least 1TB per month, up from 4.2 percent in Q3 2019, according to a study released yesterday by OpenVault. OpenVault is a vendor that sells a data-usage tracking platform to cable, fiber, and wireless ISPs and has 150 operators as customers worldwide. The 8.8- and 4.2-percent figures refer to US customers only, an OpenVault spokesperson told Ars.

More customers exceeding their data caps will result in more overage charges paid to ISPs that impose monthly data caps. Higher usage can also boost ISP revenue because people using more data tend to subscribe to higher-speed packages.

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Elon Musk says he has tested positive for COVID-19

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:28am
Elon Musk

Enlarge (credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Elon Musk has tested positive for the coronavirus, he announced on Twitter. He also tested negative.

"Was tested for covid four times today," Musk wrote on Thursday evening. "Two tests came back negative, two came back positive."

Musk believes that "something extremely bogus is going on."

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Amazon begins shifting Alexa’s cloud AI to its own silicon

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 11:07am

Amazon engineers discuss the migration of 80 percent of Alexa's workload to Inferentia ASICs in this three-minute clip.

On Thursday, an Amazon AWS blogpost announced that the company has moved most of the cloud processing for its Alexa personal assistant off of Nvidia GPUs and onto its own Inferentia Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC). Amazon dev Sebastien Stormacq describes the Inferentia's hardware design as follows:

AWS Inferentia is a custom chip, built by AWS, to accelerate machine learning inference workloads and optimize their cost. Each AWS Inferentia chip contains four NeuronCores. Each NeuronCore implements a high-performance systolic array matrix multiply engine, which massively speeds up typical deep learning operations such as convolution and transformers. NeuronCores are also equipped with a large on-chip cache, which helps cut down on external memory accesses, dramatically reducing latency and increasing throughput.

When an Amazon customer—usually someone who owns an Echo or Echo dot—makes use of the Alexa personal assistant, very little of the processing is done on the device itself. The workload for a typical Alexa request looks something like this:

  1. A human speaks to an Amazon Echo, saying: "Alexa, what's the special ingredient in Earl Grey tea?"
  2. The Echo detects the wake word—Alexa—using its own on-board processing
  3. The Echo streams the request to Amazon data centers
  4. Within the Amazon data center, the voice stream is converted to phonemes (Inference AI workload)
  5. Still in the data center, phonemes are converted to words (Inference AI workload)
  6. Words are assembled into phrases (Inference AI workload)
  7. Phrases are distilled into intent (Inference AI workload)
  8. Intent is routed to an appropriate fulfillment service, which returns a response as a JSON document
  9. JSON document is parsed, including text for Alexa's reply
  10. Text form of Alexa's reply is converted into natural-sounding speech (Inference AI workload)
  11. Natural speech audio is streamed back to the Echo device for playback—"It's bergamot orange oil."

As you can see, almost all of the actual work done in fulfilling an Alexa request happens in the cloud—not in an Echo or Echo Dot device itself. And the vast majority of that cloud work is performed not by traditional if-then logic but inference—which is the answer-providing side of neural network processing.

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Creeptastic Truth Seekers takes its horror seriously—but not too seriously

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 10:42am
(l-r) Emma D'Arcy, Nick Frost, and Samson Kanyo star in <em>Truth Seekers</em>.

Enlarge / (l-r) Emma D'Arcy, Nick Frost, and Samson Kanyo star in Truth Seekers. (credit: Amazon Prime)

A lonely broadband installer with a side gig as a ghost hunter and his new partner encounter more supernatural intrigue than they bargained for in Truth Seekers, a new comedy series on Amazon Prime, created by Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, James Serafinowicz, and Nat Saunders. We're fans of Paul, Shaun of the Dead, and the rest of the Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy, so it's nice to see Frost and Pegg back together on-screen again. Truth Seekers brings their unique comic sensibility to the topic of paranormal investigation.

Per the official synopsis:

Truth Seekers is a supernatural comedy series about a team of part-time paranormal investigators who team up to uncover and film ghost sightings across the UK, sharing their adventures on an online channel for all to see. However, as they stake out haunted churches, underground bunkers and abandoned hospitals with their array of homemade ghost-detecting gizmos, their supernatural experiences grow more frequent, more terrifying and even deadly, as they begin to uncover a conspiracy that could bring about Armageddon for the entire human race.

Frost plays Gus—a lonely widowed guy with a boring job installing broadband for a company called SMYLE—who moonlights as an amateur paranormal investigator. The titular Truth Seekers is the name of his YouTube channel. Pegg has a somewhat smaller role (in terms of screen time) as Gus' cheerfully exuberant boss, Dave, who sports a positively disastrous wig and seems to be very keen on always maintaining "100 percent coverage." Is he really that gung-ho about customer service, or is there some ulterior motive at SMYLE?

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Expansive White House COVID outbreak sidelines 10% of Secret Service

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 10:23am
A member of the United States Secret Service wearing a face mask stands guard as President Donald J. Trump speaks to supporters from the Blue Room balcony during an event at the White House on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / A member of the United States Secret Service wearing a face mask stands guard as President Donald J. Trump speaks to supporters from the Blue Room balcony during an event at the White House on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | The Washington Post)

The latest coronavirus outbreak at the White House continues to expand and has now sidelined roughly 10 percent of the Secret Service’s core security team, according to a report by The Washington Post.

More than 130 Secret Service officers who guard the White House and the president are now infected or in quarantine after close contact with infected co-workers. A former senior Secret Service supervisor told the Post that missing over 130 of the agency’s 1,300 officers in the Uniformed Division “does not bode well for White House security.”

People familiar with the matter have linked the spread of the coronavirus among Secret Service agents in part to the president’s whirlwind travel and crowded campaign rallies in the run-up to the election. The agency is also looking into possible exposures at the White House.

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iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro Max hands-on: How they compare with the 12 and 12 Pro

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 9:31am

Two weeks ago, we published a double-review of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro—but those two phones were only half of Apple's new lineup. The extra-small iPhone 12 mini and extra-large iPhone 12 Pro Max are out today, and we've spent some time with both of them.

We'll go over the key differences between these two models and the phones we already reviewed—and only those key differences. Consider this a short supplement to the previously published iPhone 12 review; unless otherwise noted here, everything we wrote about the 12 applies to the 12 mini, and the same goes for the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max.

For the most part, size is the only difference between these phones and the two 6.1-inch devices that shipped before. But there are some other differences—most notably, the iPhone 12 Pro Max has some camera improvements, which we'll talk about.

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Alphabet CEO: Plan to target EU commissioner was not “sanctioned” by me

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 7:21am
EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton talks to media during a press conference in June.

Enlarge / EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton talks to media during a press conference in June. (credit: Thierry Monasse | Getty Images)

The chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet has apologized to Thierry Breton after an internal document laid out a plan to attack the EU commissioner and promised that such tactics were “not the way we operate.”

In a virtual meeting on Thursday, Sundar Pichai told Mr. Breton, the internal market commissioner, that Google was a very large company and that the document “was never shown to me.” He added that he had not “sanctioned” the plan, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

The document set out Google’s response to landmark new legislation from the EU as the bloc reshapes how it regulates Internet companies.

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Demon’s Souls PS5 review: A gorgeous game worth dying (repeatedly) for

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 6:07am

Does the phrase "best graphics of the year" compel you to buy a video game?

Sony likely hopes that bullet point, as applied to this week's Demon's Souls remaster, will put you over the edge to buy not only that new game, but also its required $499 PlayStation 5 console. And while I'm cautious to put graphics over gameplay, there's really no getting around it: Sony made the right bet with this masterpiece as a console-launch showcase.

Super Mario 64 has long stood as the benchmark for a system-selling console exclusive, one that exploits its hardware to incredible effect, and Demon's Souls is the closest we're getting to that lofty mark in 2020—a hair better than March's incredible Half-Life Alyx as a VR system-seller. Crucially, Bluepoint Games' remaster pulls this off while remaining faithful to 11-year-old gameplay, which means the game earns its next-gen stripes entirely through performance and aesthetics.

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Rocket Report: SpaceX set for second crew launch, Chinese firm reaches orbit

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 5:00am
A rocket leaves a trail of flame and smoke as it lifts off.

Enlarge / China's new carrier rocket CERES-1, developed by the Beijing-based high-tech company Galactic Energy, blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on November 7, 2020. (credit: Chen Xiao/VCG via Getty Images)

Welcome to Edition 3.23 of the Rocket Report! After virtually no vacation during this year of years, the author of this report is going to try to take most of the next two weeks off (Starship hops permitting). Because of this, the Rocket Report will not return until December 3. Thank you for your patience.

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.

Relativity Space conducts full-duration engine test. Relativity Space said Monday that the company has successfully completed a full-duration test-firing of its Aeon 1 rocket engine, running it at full power for 187 seconds. The test at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi took place with all of the engine's key components—including turbopumps, injector, and combustion chamber—operating in a flight-like configuration. Surprisingly, the company met this milestone two months ahead of schedule.

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A look at the psychological burdens of COVID lockdowns

ArsTechnica - Fri, 11/13/2020 - 4:45am
Two men cary a bench.

Enlarge / Municipality employees remove the famous blue chairs on the "Promenade des anglais" in Nice, southern France, in order to limit opportunities for people to gather. (credit: VALERY HACHE / Getty Images)

With the dramatic rise in infections in the United States, there's increasing discussion of whether states need to go back to severe social restrictions or even lockdowns, in which only essential workers are allowed to leave their homes. But many people aren't happy about the idea of re-entering lockdowns because lockdowns exact both an economic and an emotional cost.

While we're likely to get lots of hard data on economic costs eventually, some researchers in New Zealand decided to look at the emotional toll. They performed a detailed survey at the height of lockdown and found that, as expected, the restrictions had an impact on people trapped in their houses for weeks. But the impact was more pronounced on the young and those who had experienced psychological distress previously.

Lockdown NZ

The public health officials who advocate for lockdowns in response to soaring infection rates recognize that lockdowns exact an emotional toll on people who have to stay in their homes. The trade-off for this toll is the avoidance of death, severe illness, overloading of healthcare systems, etc. And the lockdowns are meant to be temporary; once infection rates drop sufficiently, then less draconian control measures (like social distancing, limiting gatherings, and mask use) can keep the infection rates low.

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Report: White House pressuring CISA to stop debunking election nonsense [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Thu, 11/12/2020 - 4:03pm
A somewhat irritated-looking man in a suit listens from behind a microphone.

Enlarge / Christopher Krebs, director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. (credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Update: After publication, the Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees issued a joint statement in which they called the 2020 presidential election "the most secure in American history." The statement continued:

"When states have close elections, many will recount ballots. All of the states with close results in the 2020 presidential race have paper records of each vote, allowing the ability to go back and count each ballot if necessary... There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised." [Emphasis theirs]

Original story: As Donald Trump and his allies have touted unproven claims of election fraud over the last week, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and its leader, Chris Krebs, have swatted them down. CISA has set up a "Rumor Control" page that debunks common claims about the election.

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Trump admin puts a hold on TikTok ban it seems to have forgotten about

ArsTechnica - Thu, 11/12/2020 - 3:45pm
TikTok logo next to inverted US flag.

Enlarge / TikTok's US fate is up in the air, but at least you can still download and patch it. (credit: SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

The Department of Commerce has put a stay on enforcing an executive order that would have forced popular short-form video app TikTok to suspend all US operations as of midnight tonight. This is a tacit admission that the proposed ban isn't actually particularly important to the administration any longer.

Commerce said the orders against TikTok are on hold "pending further legal developments" in multiple lawsuits, The Wall Street Journal reports.

President Donald Trump earlier this year signed two executive orders relating to TikTok. The first, on August 7, declared the app to be a national emergency. A second (PDF), issued one week later, gave ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, 90 days to divest the app to a US owner.

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