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.

Trump replaces FCC member in bid to push through Twitter/Facebook crackdown

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 1:16pm
FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly speaks at a conference while FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr and Chairman Ajit Pai look on.

Enlarge / Federal Communication Commission Republican members (L-R) Brendan Carr, Michael O'Rielly, and Chairman Ajit Pai participate in a discussion during the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 23, 2018, in National Harbor, Maryland. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla )

President Donald Trump today nominated one of his administration officials to serve on the Federal Communications Commission in an attempt to push through his proposed crackdown on social media websites.

Trump announced the nomination of Nathan Simington, who is currently a senior advisor in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Simington "played a significant role in the agency's social media regulation agenda," as The Verge reported last week when news broke that Trump was considering Simington for the FCC position.

Simington would replace Republican Michael O'Rielly, who apparently angered Trump by saying that the FCC must uphold First Amendment speech protections "that apply to corporate entities, especially when they engage in editorial decision making." O'Rielly's comments signaled that he isn't likely to support the Trump administration petition, submitted by the NTIA, that asks the FCC to reinterpret Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in order to limit social media platforms' legal protections for hosting third-party content when the platforms take down or alter content they consider objectionable.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple launches iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 on just one day’s notice

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 1:09pm

Today marks the launch of most of Apple's major annual updates to its operating systems—excepting macOS Big Sur. iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 are rolling out to users across the globe and throughout the day today (and tomorrow, in some regions).

The timing is unusual this time around. Normally, Apple launches OS updates several days after its September product-announcement livestream, typically timed closely with the release of new iPhones. But with no iPhones announced this week, Apple instead pushed these updates only one day after the event and one day before the new Apple Watch and eighth-generation iPad are expected to end up in users' hands.

iOS 14 brings major new features to the home screen and app management experience for the iPhone, with support for the home screen widgets that were introduced in iPadOS last year and a new App Library view that allows for easier managing of all installed apps on one panel. Along with that comes systemwide picture-in-picture support for videos—another feature that has made its way from iPadOS—and a number of significant improvements to Messages, Maps, and other applications, as well as a new live translation app.

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Climate science contrarian installed in upper-level NOAA position

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 12:31pm
A man in a suit speaks at a podium.

Enlarge / David Legates speaks at a Heartland Institute event. (credit: Scott K. Johnson)

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently hired a new person in an upper-level deputy assistant secretary position. Normally, this would not be too surprising or newsworthy, but this is an exception. Joining NOAA as the “Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction” is University of Delaware Professor David Legates—a well-known contrarian who rejects the science of human-caused climate change.

The position apparently reports to acting head of NOAA Neil Jacobs, although the circumstances of the hire are unknown. Ars asked NOAA about the duties of this position, but the agency has not responded. Jacobs was entangled in the fallout from President Trump’s inaccurate tweets about Hurricane Dorian that culminated in a forecast map doctored with a black marker. A pair of investigations found that Jacobs capitulated to directives from the office of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the White House, releasing an unsigned NOAA statement that sought to rescue the president’s inaccurate statements by mildly admonishing the forecasters who corrected him.

The Washington Post reported that Legates’ department at the University of Delaware informed students in an email that he would not be teaching in the fall semester while noting, “David hopes to be back at UD in the spring.”

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple asks to block iOS Unreal Engine development in new court filing

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 12:06pm
Promotional image from video game shows a man with a rocket launcher leaping away from numerous explosions.

Enlarge / Artist's conception of Apple's conception of Epic trying to evade punishment for its breach of Apple's developer agreement with regards to Fortnite. (credit: Epic Games)

As the legal battle between Epic Games and Apple moves toward a September 28 hearing, the iPhone maker is mincing no words in arguing against Epic's request for a preliminary injunction that would bring Fortnite back to the iOS App Store. In a 37-page motion filed late Tuesday, Apple says that it needs to retain the ability to punish "one of the most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer."

"Epic started a fire, and poured gasoline on it, and now asks this Court for emergency assistance in putting it out, even though Epic can do so itself in an instant by simply adhering to the contractual terms that have profitably governed its relationship with Apple for years," the motion reads, in part. "Epic is a saboteur, not a martyr."

Security-centered arguments

Apple's argument for keeping Fortnite off the App Store without changes relies heavily on arguments around protecting iPhone security. When Apple first created the iOS App Store, it says, "Rather than recreating the Internet, Apple opted instead to create a safe and trusted place for its iPhone customers to discover and download apps, confident that they will work seamlessly and securely with the tap of a finger."

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Review: We do not recommend the $299 Oculus Quest 2 as your next VR system

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 10:30am
It looks the same as its predecessor, but Oculus Quest 2 is quite different—and mostly in disappointing ways.

Enlarge / It looks the same as its predecessor, but Oculus Quest 2 is quite different—and mostly in disappointing ways. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

The long-rumored (and recently leaked) Oculus Quest 2 is here, in my home, on my face. I received it earlier this month, along with news that this would be Oculus's cheapest "all-in-one" VR system yet: starting at $299 and shipping on October 13.

That's one hell of a price for cutting-edge VR. But it comes at a cost.

Part of that comes from Facebook's aggressive policy about making Facebook social media accounts (whose terms of service revolve around a "real name" policy) mandatory to use new Oculus VR headsets, including the Quest 2. Let me be blunt: that is a terrible idea. Attachment of a social media account and its massive Web of personally identifying data (as accumulated by everything from service log-ins to average Web-browsing cookies) to computing hardware (VR headsets, phones, computers, TVs, etc) is quite frankly an irresponsible move on Facebook's part.

Read 57 remaining paragraphs | Comments

AT&T wants to put ads on your smartphone in exchange for $5 discount

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 9:05am
An AT&T sign on the outside of a building.

Enlarge / An AT&T sign outside a company office in New York City. (credit: Getty Images | Roberto Machado Noa )

AT&T CEO John Stankey said the company may offer cellphone plans subsidized by advertising, giving customers monthly discounts of $5 or $10 in exchange for ads on their phones. "I believe there's a segment of our customer base where given a choice, they would take some load of advertising for a $5 or $10 reduction in their mobile bill," Stankey said in an interview with Reuters yesterday. Stankey apparently didn't offer details on what form the ads would take.

According to Reuters, Stankey said that AT&T's ad-supported phone plans could be introduced in "a year or two." AT&T is already doing back-end work in its targeted-advertising system that could increase the value of such plans to AT&T's ad-sales business:

AT&T engineers are creating "unified customer identifiers," Stankey said. Such technology would allow marketers to identify users across multiple devices and serve them relevant advertising.

The ability to fine-tune ad targeting would allow AT&T to sell ads at higher rates, he said.

Stankey also said that a planned ad-supported version of HBO Max would play an important role in ad-supported phone plans, but he didn't offer further details, according to Reuters.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ancient DNA sheds light on Viking origins, travels

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 8:36am
Modern reconstruction of a Viking longboat.

Enlarge / Modern reconstruction of a Viking longboat. (credit: Dun.can / Flickr)

A recent study of ancient DNA sheds light on who the Viking groups were and how they interacted with the people they met. The Viking Age, from around 750 to 1100 CE, left a cultural and economic impact that stretched from the coast of North America to the Central Asian steppe, and archaeology shows several examples of cultural exchange spanning continents. But to see patterns in how people swapped not only ideas, but genes, we need to look at the DNA of ancient people.

“We know very well that the Viking Age changed the cultural and political map of Europe a thousand years ago, but we don't really know much about the demographic changes that accompanied these changes,” University of Copenhagen genomicist Ashot Margaryan told Ars. “This can be addressed based on population genetics methods.”

Who were the Vikings?

Today, we tend to think of the Vikings as one big mass of bearded raiders, swooping down European coasts, up rivers, and across the North Atlantic. But the Vikings didn’t see themselves that way at all. The people who set sail to raid, trade, fish, and settle during the Viking Age saw themselves as members of distinct groups, with a shared culture but not a shared identity. The genetic evidence, it turns out, is on the Vikings’ side.

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Electrify America switches to per-kWh billing in 23 states

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 8:27am
An Electrify America charging location in Colorado recharges a Porsche Taycan.

Enlarge / An Electrify America charging location in Colorado recharges a Porsche Taycan. (credit: Electrify America)

We measure electric vehicle batteries in kWh, so if you're paying to charge an EV, you'd probably expect to be charged by the kWh. And now, if you use an Electrify America charging station in one of 23 states or the District of Columbia, you'll be able to do just that, as the charging company has rolled out a new pricing structure. For the remaining 27 states that require customers to pay by the minute for the electricity they use, the company has simplified its plans and dropped its prices.

When Electrify America started rolling out the first phase of a $2 billion charging network in 2019, it did so with a complicated payment structure. When you plug an EV into a fast charger, as part of the handshake process, the car tells the charger the maximum level of power (in kW) it can accept.

Electrify America used this to determine how much you'd pay, with three different bands (0-75kW, 76-125kW, and 126-350kW), each more expensive than the previous. And as I discovered, it was quite possible to pay the higher fee even if your car sucked in power at a much lower rate during the charging session—the theoretical maximum kW value is what set the price. (In practice, OEMs like Kia have signed deals with Electrify America so owners get discounted or even free charging for several years.)

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Sony pushes back on reports that it’s reducing PS5’s launch availability

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 8:16am

Sony has issued a rare denial in response to a recent report from Bloomberg suggesting the company has cut back production of the upcoming PlayStation 5 due to component shortages.

“While we do not release details related to manufacturing, the information provided by Bloomberg is false," the company said in a statement provided to GamesIndustry.biz. "We have not changed the production number for PlayStation 5 since the start of mass production."

Bloomberg's report cited "people familiar with the matter" to suggest that the company was lowering its expected worldwide console production from 15 million down to 11 million for the fiscal year ending in March 2021. That's due to "production yields as low as 50% for its SOC," according to the report.

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Facebook’s latest hollow effort to fight climate change denial

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 8:06am
This is fine.

Enlarge / This is fine. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Facebook this week implemented yet another new initiative meant to combat rampant, dangerous disinformation on the platform—this time, relating to the climate crisis. Unfortunately this initiative, like countless others before it, seems likely to generate positive headlines for about a week before disappearing unremarked into obscurity, solving exactly zero of Facebook's deeper problems along the way.

"One of the biggest lessons we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is how powerful Facebook can be for connecting people to accurate, expert advice and information during a global crisis," Facebook wrote in a corporate blog post. To that end, Facebook is launching a new "Climate Change Information Center" module and landing page that will, in theory, connect users to up-to-date, fact-based information grounded in reality.

Users in the US and a small handful of other countries may already have seen a notification about the new climate information center appear in their newsfeeds this week, either on desktop or on mobile. The green box implores you by name to "see how our climate is changing."

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Boeing hid design flaws in 737 Max jets from pilots and regulators

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 7:32am
A Boeing 737 MAX jet lands following a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, on June 29, 2020. A congressional report found a "disturbing pattern of technical miscalculations and troubling management misjudgments made by Boeing" with regard to the 737 Max.

Enlarge / A Boeing 737 MAX jet lands following a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, on June 29, 2020. A congressional report found a "disturbing pattern of technical miscalculations and troubling management misjudgments made by Boeing" with regard to the 737 Max. (credit: Jason Redmond | Getty Images)

Boeing hid design flaws in its 737 Max jet from both pilots and regulators as it raced to have the airplane certified as fit to fly, according to a damning congressional report into why two of the aircraft crashed within months of each other last year, killing 346 people.

The report by the US House of Representatives transport committee found the US aircraft maker cut corners and pressured regulators to overlook aspects of its new design in its attempts to catch up with European rival Airbus. It also accused US regulators of being too concerned with pleasing the company to exercise proper oversight.

The report said: “[The two crashes] were the horrific culmination of a series of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing’s engineers, a lack of transparency on the part of Boeing’s management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the [Federal Aviation Administration]—the pernicious result of regulatory capture on the part of the FAA with respect to its responsibilities to perform robust oversight of Boeing and to ensure the safety of the flying public.

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Daimler’s dirty diesel defeat device deal: $1.5 billion to say sorry

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 6:34am
A 1980s Mercedes-Benz diesel belches exhaust fumes in London. People expected diesel engines of this vintage to be dirty, but we had a right to expect that diesel engines sold over the past decade complied with emissions laws. Turns out, they don't.

Enlarge / A 1980s Mercedes-Benz diesel belches exhaust fumes in London. People expected diesel engines of this vintage to be dirty, but we had a right to expect that diesel engines sold over the past decade complied with emissions laws. Turns out, they don't. (credit: Richard Oliver/Getty Images)

In 2020 it seems more usual to read about the US Environmental Protection Agency rolling back pollution laws or arguing that big business should be allowed to do what it wants. But apparently the agency does occasionally work as intended. Earlier this week, together with the US Department of Justice and the California Air Resources Board, it held Daimler AG—parent company to Mercedes-Benz—accountable for selling diesel vehicles fitted with emissions defeat devices.

EPA and CARB found that all was not right with the Daimler's diesel engines in the wake of the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal. EPA told Daimler it was going to conduct some additional tests of the company's four- and six-cylinder diesel engines "using driving cycles and conditions that may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal operation and use, for the purposes of investigating a potential defeat device."

In doing so, it discovered several auxiliary emission control devices that were not described in the homologation paperwork submitted by Daimler. In total, about 160,000 Sprinter vans and about 90,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles are affected, between model years 2009 and 2016.

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Nvidia RTX 3080 review: 4K greatness at $699—and good news for cheaper GPUs

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 6:00am

For some people, summarizing the Nvidia RTX 3080 difference may revolve around a slew of high-end—and sometimes proprietary—technologies. Ray tracing. Deep-learning super sampling. Crazy-fast memory bandwidth. In some cases, Nvidia's new $699 GPU is at its best when software leverages its very specific perks and features.

But as we all know, 2018's line of RTX 2000 GPUs left fans with high-priced options that didn't offer enough universally drool-worthy boosts. At the time, I called those cards "a ticket to the RTX lottery," and for nearly two years, the payoff was scant.

It's getting better—especially as DirectX 12 Ultimate and a pair of next-gen consoles finally lean into most of 2018's RTX-specific perks. AMD will soon cash in on this stuff with its own powerful RDNA 2 line of GPUs. Once Nvidia's RTX features feel less "proprietary," we should see them in more games—but that also leaves Nvidia to answer a question. Well, what else ya got?

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Super Mario 3D All-Stars review: A bare-bones nostalgia warp zone

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 6:00am

In the early '90s, Super Mario All-Stars was among the first titles to suggest that important old console games—like the early 2D Super Mario Bros. series—shouldn't be stranded on the obsolete hardware that originally hosted them. The collection also popularized the notion that older games could be improved with new technology while still preserving their original intent.

Now 27 years later, widespread backward compatibility and regular remasters (including those from Nintendo) have made that concept more de rigueur than revolutionary. Thus, Super Mario 3D All-Stars feels weirdly anti-climactic.

On the one hand, it's a collection of three of the best 3D platformers ever made (well, two-and-a-half of the best, at least) in a format that's more easily compatible with modern TVs and the Switch's convenient portable form factor. On the other hand, that's pretty much all it is.

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Mathematicians may have unlocked the secret of how “stone forests” form

ArsTechnica - Wed, 09/16/2020 - 4:54am
The Stone Forest (Shilin) in China's Yunnan Province may be the result of solids dissolving into liquids in the presence of gravity, producing natural convective flows.

Enlarge / The Stone Forest (Shilin) in China's Yunnan Province may be the result of solids dissolving into liquids in the presence of gravity, producing natural convective flows.

There are many wondrous geologic formations in nature, from Giant's Causeway in Ireland to Castleton Tower in Utah, and the various processes by which such structures form is of longstanding interest for scientists. A team of applied mathematicians from New York University has turned its attention to the so-called "stone forests" common in certain regions of China and Madagascar. These pointed rock formations, like the famed Stone Forest in China's Yunnan Province, are the result of solids dissolving into liquids in the presence of gravity, which produces natural convective flows, according to the NYU team. They described their findings in a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Co-author Leif Ristroph told Ars that his group at NYU's Applied Math Lab became interested in studying stone forests (technically a type of karst topography) by a somewhat indirect route. They were using simulations and experiments to explore the interesting shapes that evolve in landscapes due to a number of "shaping" processes, most notably erosion and dissolving.

"We first discovered the spikes formed by dissolution when we left candy in a water tank and came back later to find a needle-like spire," he said. "The grad student, first author Mac Huang, even accidentally cut himself when he was admiring the shape. This drew us into the problem, and we were very excited when we realized the connection to stone pinnacles and stone forests, which have been quite mysterious in their development. We hope our experiments tell a simple 'origin story' behind these landforms."

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Safety driver in 2018 Uber crash is charged with negligent homicide

ArsTechnica - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 7:04pm
A silver SUV with a damage grill is parked on a street at night.

Enlarge / The Uber vehicle after it struck Elaine Herzberg. (credit: Tempe Police Department)

An Arizona grand jury has indicted Rafaela Vasquez, a former safety driver in Uber's self-driving car project, for the 2018 death of pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona. Prosecutors decided not to charge Uber criminally last year.

The crash occurred after dark on a well-lit stretch of Mill Avenue. Herzberg was crossing the multilane road with her bicycle when the Uber SUV struck her at 38 miles per hour. Footage from a driver-facing camera shows Vasquez looking down at her lap for more than five seconds just prior to the crash. Officials found that Vasquez had been streaming a reality show called The Voice to her phone just before the crash.

Vasquez is being charged with negligent homicide, a charge similar to manslaughter that carries a recommended sentence of 2.5 years. However, the grand jury also charged that the crime was committed with a "dangerous instrument"—namely the car. When negligent homicide is committed with a dangerous weapon or instrument, the recommended sentence increases to six years.

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Bonkers federal podcast downplays COVID-19, blasts health restrictions

ArsTechnica - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 12:48pm
Former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office building to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, on May 1, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Enlarge / Former Trump campaign official Michael Caputo arrives at the Hart Senate Office building to be interviewed by Senate Intelligence Committee staffers, on May 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty | Mark Wilson)

In a stunning podcast released by the Department of Health and Human Services, two top officials at the department repeatedly downplayed the COVID-19 pandemic, railed against mitigation efforts, called closures of in-person schooling “nonsense,” and said US journalists do not “[give] a damn about public health information.”

The podcast, released on the HHS website September 11, is part of a series hosted by Michael Caputo, who currently holds the title of HHS assistant secretary of public affairs. Though Caputo has no background in health care, the White House installed him in the department in April—a move reportedly made to assert more White House control over HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Caputo is a longtime Trump loyalist and former campaign official. He got his start as a protégé of Roger Stone and later worked as a Moscow-based advisor to Boris Yeltsin and did public relations work for Vladimir Putin.

Learning curve

Caputo has most recently made headlines for working to interfere with and alter scientific reports on COVID-19 prepared by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The meddling was intended to make reports more in line with messaging from Trump, who has admitted to downplaying the pandemic. Caputo also raised eyebrows with a Facebook live video, reported by The New York Times Monday, in which, without evidence, he accused government scientists of engaging in “sedition” and claimed that the CDC is harboring a “resistance unit.” He also spoke of long “shadows” in his DC apartment and said left-wing “hit-squads” were preparing for armed insurrection after the election.

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Oracle’s TikTok non-acquisition seeks Treasury, White House approval

ArsTechnica - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 12:03pm
A smartphone against a colorful, out-of-focus background.

Enlarge / The TikTok logo displayed on a smartphone, with logo of parent company ByteDance in the background. (credit: Sheldon Coope | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images)

President Donald Trump spent several months pushing to have TikTok banned or sold to a US firm. He seems to have gotten his way, as Oracle confirmed it struck a deal with ByteDance over TikTok. That transaction, however, does not necessarily assuage the White House's stated concerns with the popular video app—and the deal has a long way to go, in a short period of time, before it's done.

The specific terms of the agreement have still not been made public. The arrangement is not the full sale that Trump was pushing for as recently as last Friday. China's export ban on machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms prevented that kind of direct acquisition.

Oracle has said very little about the transaction, which first leaked late on Sunday. Monday morning, the company confirmed it submitted a proposal to become ByteDance's "trusted technology provider" to the Treasury Department for review over the weekend of September 12-13. Tuesday morning, it repeated the statement as part of a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

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“This is the way”: Disney drops first trailer for The Mandalorian S2

ArsTechnica - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 11:40am

Pedro Pascal is back as the titular bounty hunter who befriends a mysterious Child in The Mandalorian S2.

Disney has dropped the first trailer for the second season of The Mandalorian, the Emmy-nominated first live-action Star Wars TV series created by Jon Favreau. Starring Pedro Pascal as Din Djarin, the titular Mandalorian, the series takes place a few years after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order.

(Spoilers for S1 below.)

The basic premise is that, after the defeat of the Empire in Return of the Jedi, there was a period of chaos and lawlessness as a new government struggled to emerge from the wreckage. Pascal's bounty hunter is "a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic."

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The new iPad Air goes all-screen, adds Magic Keyboard support

ArsTechnica - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 10:52am
The new iPad Air goes all-screen, adds Magic Keyboard support

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

Apple announced a new CPU today for the eighth-generation iPad, the A12 Bionic. The A12 Bionic, featured in the base iPad model, offers a 40 percent faster CPU and 20 percent faster GPU than seventh-generation iPads, and Apple says that also means the A12 is twice as fast as the top-selling Windows laptop, three times faster than the top-selling Android tablet, and six times faster than the leading Chromebook.

iPad Air

Just as many analysts and leakers predicted, Apple introduced an iPad Air during its "Time Flies" livestream event today. The new iPad Air comes about a year and a half after the last refresh, but it does more than the previous update did: it overhauls the overall design of the device. The iPad Air will be available in October, starting at $599. It comes in five colors: silver, space gray, rose gold, green, and sky blue.

Taking cues from the more expensive iPad Pro, the iPad Air now has drastically reduced bezels, no home button, and rounded screen edges. It does not, however, have the front-facing TrueDepth sensor array that the iPad Pro uses for Face ID authentication. Rather, it introduces something new to Apple devices—albeit not new to consumer mobile devices in general. Apple designed a new version of touch ID, integrated into the top button (which does not appear visually different). Underneath the button is a laser-cut sapphire lens and custom sensor for reading users' fingerprints.

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