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.

Genetically engineered rice needs less fertilizer, makes more food

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 10:51am
Image of a series of steps in a hillside, each covered in green vegetation.

Enlarge / A terraced rice field in Vietnam. (credit: Getty Images)

Nitrogen fertilizer is made from natural gas. Extracting and burning natural gas is harming life on our planet, so we should probably stop doing it (or at least try to cut back considerably). But food crops, like all plants, need that nitrogen. It’s quite the conundrum, especially since the human population relying on those crops is slated to grow over the next few decades, while the acreage of arable land is slated to drop.

In response, genetic engineers in China have been developing crops that can thrive with less nitrogen, and they made a strain of rice with a yield that’s 40 to 70 percent higher than that of regular rice. It has more grain per branch, each grain particle is bigger and denser, and the plants flowered earlier. Most breeding methods currently used in cereal crops can only generate a yield increase of less than 1 percent, so this is a pretty big deal.

One gene alters many

The scientists started by looking at proteins called transcription factors, which often control the expression of a set of genes that are often involved in varying aspects of a single physiological function. In this case, the focus was on transcription factors that were already known to regulate photosynthesis.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Samsung’s “repair mode” lets technicians look at your phone, not your data

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 10:22am
A smartphone gets repaired.

Enlarge / A smartphone gets repaired. (credit: Getty Images / krisanapong detraphiphat)

Samsung is introducing an interesting new feature for people sending in their Galaxy phones for repair: "repair mode." When shipping off your phone, you might want to do something to protect your data, and the new feature sounds like a great solution. It locks down your data, but not your phone.

Handling data during a mail-in repair process is tough. You could wipe your phone, but that's a big hassle. You don't want to just send in a completely locked down device, as technicians can't thoroughly test it if they're locked out of everything. While in repair mode, technicians can still poke around in your device and test everything, but they'll only see the default apps with blank data. When you get your device back, you can re-authenticate and disable repair mode and you'll get all your data back.

The feature was first spotted by SamMobile, and Samsung has so far only announced the feature in a Korean press release; it is first launching in Korea for the Galaxy S21 (the S22 is Samsung's latest flagship phone). Repair mode can be turned on from the settings menu, and Samsung says (through Google translate), "You won't be able to access your personal data, such as photos, messages, and accounts," and anyone with the phone will "only use the default installed apps."  Repair mode can be exited the same way, though you'll need to authenticate with a pattern, pin, or fingerprint.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Despite $100 price increase, Meta Quest 2 still offers historically cheap VR

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 10:19am
Screenshot of promotional video for VR equipment.

Enlarge / You could be this gleeful, too, if you were in the Meta Quest 2! (credit: Facebook)

If there's one rule about computer and video game hardware, it's that prices always come down after launch. The Meta Quest 2 became the exception that proves the rule this week, as Meta announced a coming $100 price increase for the popular standalone VR headset, to $400.

The increase, which Meta blamed on "rising costs," suggests the company may be trying to rein in subsidized hardware pricing that has contributed to nearly $1 billion in monthly losses for its virtual reality division in the most recent quarter.

But when you look at the short history of consumer-grade home virtual reality headsets, the Meta Quest 2 is still a historically cheap VR entry point, even after the price increase. That's especially true when you account for inflation and the extra hardware needed to power most other comparable headsets on the market.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Razer’s latest wireless mechanical keyboard has a low profile and a high price

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 10:07am
Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro

Enlarge / Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro. (credit: Razer)

Peripherals and PC maker Razer this week introduced a new wireless mechanical keyboard that resurrects one of its most creepily named products. The DeathStalker V2 Pro—as well as its wireless, tenkeyless version and wired, full-sized version—manages to be just 1 inch tall at its thickest part by using low-profile mechanical switches that rely on light-based actuation. They're the first keyboards to use Razer's Low-Profile Optical Switches.

Optical mechanical switches actuate when the switch's stem interacts with an infrared light beam within the switch's housing. Razer already sells optical switch keyboards, like the Razer Huntsman Mini Analog, whose keys are also pressure-sensitive. But this is the first time the company has made its optical mechanical technology so short.

The linear optical mechanical switches have a travel distance of 2.8 mm, and they actuate at 1.2 mm with a force of 45 g. For comparison, Cherry MX Reds, have 4 mm of travel and actuate at 2 mm with a force of 45 g.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

DeepMind research cracks structure of almost every known protein

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 10:01am
An image released by the EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute showing the structure of a human protein that was modeled by the AlphaFold computer program.

Enlarge / An image released by the EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute showing the structure of a human protein that was modeled by the AlphaFold computer program. (credit: EMBL-EBI/AFP/Getty Images)

Artificial intelligence has surpassed the limits of scientific knowledge by predicting the shape of almost every known protein, a breakthrough that will significantly reduce the time required to make biological discoveries.

The research was done by London-based AI company DeepMind—owned by Google parent Alphabet—which used its AlphaFold algorithm to build the most complete and accurate database yet of the more than 200 million known proteins.

Prediction of a protein’s structure from its DNA sequence alone has been one of biology’s greatest challenges. Current experimental methods to determine the shape of a single protein take months or years in a laboratory, which is why only about 190,000, or 0.1 percent, of known protein structures have been solved.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Crucial texts between Trump and top DHS officials leading up to Jan. 6 deleted [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 9:26am
Former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

Enlarge / Former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. (credit: Pool / Pool | Getty Images North America)

“Protestors are literally storming the Capitol. Breaking windows on doors. Rushing in. Is Trump going to say something?”

This text from White House correspondent Michael D. Shear to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is one of thousands preserved from the January 6 attack on the Capitol showing that when the trouble started, people with power immediately turned to their phones to do what they could to stop it.

There are many more deleted texts, though, that would have shown how former President Donald Trump acted before the attack and how he responded to urgent requests to de-escalate the violence in the middle of it. First, the Secret Service confirmed in December 2021 that thousands of their texts were deleted in an agency-wide phone reset. Now, The Washington Post reports that senior Department of Homeland Security officials—acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli—also lost text messages from that day, blaming a government phone reset that happened during the transition to the Biden administration in January 2021.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Record-breaking UK heat “extremely unlikely” without climate change

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 8:28am
A red-orange sky over the Houses of Parliament.

Enlarge (credit: Peter Zelei Images)

Early last week, the UK experienced something it is very much not known for—extremely hot and dry weather. The heatwave shattered all-time national records, surpassing a 38.6° C (101.5° F) mark set in 2019 by crossing 40° C (104° F) for the very first time.

The scientists behind the World Weather Attribution project use a standardized (and peer-reviewed) method to rapidly analyze weather extremes like this in the context of climate change. While there is more nuance to this science than saying an event should or shouldn’t be blamed on climate change, we can say something about the role that climate change plays. And for heatwaves, that role is often quite clear: In a warming world, the statistics of heatwaves will necessarily shift toward hotter temperatures.

The analysis of this event involves two complementary steps. First, the historical data is used to calculate the rarity of this extreme weather event in today’s climate—and what it would have been before the world warmed by about 1.2° C (2.2° F). Second, large collections of climate model simulations with and without human-caused warming are similarly examined for trends in the type of regional weather pattern that produced the event.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

How Tor is fighting—and beating—Russian censorship

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 8:15am
How Tor is fighting—and beating—Russian censorship

Enlarge (credit: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/Getty)

For years, the anonymity service Tor has been the best way to stay private online and dodge web censorship. Much to the ire of governments and law enforcement agencies, Tor encrypts your web traffic and sends it through a chain of computers, making it very hard for people to track you online. Authoritarian governments see it as a particular threat to their longevity, and in recent months, Russia has stepped up its long-term ambition to block Tor—although not without a fight.

In December 2021, Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, enacted a 4-year-old court order that allows it to order Internet service providers (ISPs) to block the Tor Project website, where the Tor Browser can be downloaded, and restrict access to its services. Since then, censors have been locked in a battle with Tor’s technical team and users in Russia, who are pushing to keep the Tor network online and allow people to access the uncensored web, which is otherwise heavily restricted in the country.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Blazepods are interesting training gear, but they’re overkill for casual users

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 8:06am
One of my better data traces.

Enlarge / One of my better data traces. (credit: Blazepod)

Fans of Formula 1 may have noticed that many drivers engage in reaction training before getting into their cars at the start of a race. For some, this is as simple as working with a trainer and some tennis balls. But you might have noticed 2021 champion Max Verstappen slapping some illuminated pods, like a wireless version of the old Simon game from the late 1970s.

They're called Blazepods, and they're Bluetooth-linked training lights that have their roots in an interactive playground in Israel. Blazepod's founder developed a series of exercises for the system, like capture the flag and relay races. "It was such a success, they knew they needed to make this wireless," explained Brian Farber, Blazepod's director of business development. "And then they started implementing [them] and understanding what the benefits were—everything from the cognitive to connecting the brain and the body together, decision-making, reaction time, and then actual analytics. It just kind of took off from there."

Max Verstappen might be Blazepod's highest-profile user.

Max Verstappen might be Blazepod's highest-profile user. (credit: Blazepod)

Blazepod offered to send Ars a set to test, and since I've been in the middle of a fitness kick, and some distant part of my brain still thinks it can be a racing driver, I took the company up on the offer.

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Analogue comes out swinging with Pocket 1.1 update: “We’re not f-ing around”

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 8:00am
Every Analogue Pocket system will function as a "dev kit," but this special developer version of the portable system will be sent to interested FPGA "core" developers starting this week as a freebie to encourage their contributions to Analogue's new, not-quite-open OpenFPGA standard.

Enlarge / Every Analogue Pocket system will function as a "dev kit," but this special developer version of the portable system will be sent to interested FPGA "core" developers starting this week as a freebie to encourage their contributions to Analogue's new, not-quite-open OpenFPGA standard. (credit: Analogue)

Upon its launch in December, the portable Analogue Pocket system immediately stood out as a supercharged way to play classic portable cartridges from Game Boys. While its design borrows heavily from the Gunpei Yokoi original, its physical makeup is attractive and modern, and its mix of FPGA hardware and overkill, high-resolution IPS screen do wonders for old-school games.

But Analogue dropped the ball on part of its sales pitch: a sweeping "1.1" system update that was supposed to launch in "January 2022." Analogue never said why this patch was delayed. Was it a matter of its developers struggling to deliver? Was Analogue biding its time while shipments of the $219 Pocket hardware, and its companion $99 Analogue Dock for TVs, remained scarce, partly due to a global chip shortage?

Whatever the reason, the 1.1 update finally arrives today as a free download—and it sees Analogue taking its boldest steps yet into new territory. In a conversation with Ars Technica, Analogue CEO Christopher Taber suggested that the company's prior emphasis on console-specific FPGA systems (like the Super Nt and Mega Sg) may give way to a more open, MiSTer-like approach.

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Russia: We’re not leaving the Space Station until our own is ready

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 7:06am
Humans have lived aboard the International Space Station for more than two decades.

Humans have lived aboard the International Space Station for more than two decades. (credit: NASA)

Earlier this week, Russia indicated that it was not extending the current cooperation agreement for the International Space Station, which expires in 2024, and would be departing the project after that. Nearly everyone noticed that there was no actual departure date specified, leaving open the possibility that it would continue its participation without a formal agreement in place. That now seems to be what will happen.

Reuters is reporting that a senior NASA official has indicated that Russia will continue to operate its portion of the ISS until it has its own station in orbit, something that's currently targeted for 2028. Earlier statements from Russian officials indicated that construction of that station would be started in 2024 but had not provided a completion date. On Wednesday, Roscosmos also posted a video indicating that completion would come in 2028, and the agency would "need to continue operating the ISS" until that date.

Given that it's extremely unlikely that Russia will manage to get a station built at all while under severe sanctions, this raises the prospect that Roscosmos will have no alternatives in orbit until after 2030, the year NASA has targeted for ending occupation of its portion of the ISS.

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NASA revises Mars’ sample return plan to use helicopters

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 4:05pm
Image of all the vehicles involved in the planned NASA sample return.

Enlarge (credit: NASAJPL-Caltech)

On Wednesday, NASA announced that it had made major changes to its plan for returning samples from the surface of Mars in the early 2030s. Currently being collected by the Perseverance rover, the samples are set to be moved to Earth by a relay of rovers and rockets. Now, inspired by the success of the Ingenuity helicopter, NASA is saying it can lose one of the rovers, replacing it with a pair of helicopters instead.

The Mars sample return plan involves a large collection of challenges, but a central one is that the samples are currently in Perseverance but eventually have to end up in a rocket that takes off from the surface of Mars. That means that Perseverance will have to get close enough to the rocket's landing site—which we can't choose precisely—to exchange the samples, possibly diverting it from scientific objectives. It also can't be too close when the rocket lands since the rocket's landing and its associated hardware could pose a risk to the rover and its samples.

The original plan included a contingency. Perseverance would approach after the rocket had landed, and the samples would be transferred directly. If that didn't work out for whatever reason, a second rover sent to Mars by the ESA would act as an intermediary, visiting a site where the samples had been cached, retrieving them, and then delivering them to the rocket.

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Gulf Coast tests confirm deadly tropical soil bacterium now endemic to US

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 3:05pm
<Em>Burkholderia pseudomallei</em> grown on sheep blood agar for 24 hours. <em>B. pseudomallei</em> is a Gram-negative aerobic bacteria, and it's the causative agent of melioidosis.

Enlarge / Burkholderia pseudomallei grown on sheep blood agar for 24 hours. B. pseudomallei is a Gram-negative aerobic bacteria, and it's the causative agent of melioidosis. (credit: Getty | CDC/Courtesy of Larry Stauffer, Oregon State Public Health Laboratory)

For years, health officials in the US noted sporadic, mysterious cases of a foreign bacterial infection, called melioidosis. The infection—which is difficult to diagnose, tricky to treat, and often deadly—was thought to only strike travelers or those who came in contact with contaminated imported goods or animals. Yet, now and then, an American would inexplicably fall ill—no recent travel, no clear links.

Now, health officials have a definitive explanation. And it confirms a dreaded, long-held suspicion: The deadly bacterium is foreign no more. Rather, it's a permanent US resident entrenched in American soil.

Three samples taken from soil and puddle water in the Gulf Coast region of southern Mississippi tested positive for the bacterium, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday. The sampling was part of an investigation into two mysterious cases in the area that occurred in 2020 and 2022. The positive test results mark the first time that investigators have caught the deadly germ in US environmental samples, though they've been looking for it for years.

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Apple reports only slight growth in Q3 2022 earnings report

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 2:45pm
Apple HQ in Cupertino, California.

Enlarge / Apple HQ in Cupertino, California. (credit: Anadolu Agency | Financial Times)

Apple reported its earnings for the third fiscal quarter of 2022 on Thursday, and like many of its peers in consumer electronics, the company barely eked out growth over the same quarter last year. Overall revenue was up just 2 percent year over year, at $83 billion.

The company's services business, which includes everything from Apple Music to iCloud and AppleCare+, was the growth leader with 12 percent increased revenue compared to the same quarter last year. That's for a total of $19.6 billion.

But the company still earns most of its money from other categories, none of which grew as quickly. The iPhone earned $40.67 billion during the quarter—just 3 percent more than last year. And all three of the company's other categories were down against last year. The Mac fell 10 percent to $7.38 billion, the iPad was down 2 percent at $7.22 billion, and other products—including the Apple Watch, AirPods, and others—were down 8 percent to $8.08 billion.

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Pixel 6a gift card deal effectively takes $50 off Google’s new phone

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 2:05pm
The back.

Enlarge / The back. (credit: Ron Amadeo)

Google's budget-friendly juggernaut, the Pixel 6a, officially released on Thursday, but you can already snag a $50 deal on it. From now until August 7 at 11:59 pm PT, buying the $449 smartphone from one of several retailers—including AmazonTargetBest Buy, and Google itself—will net you a $50 gift card in the form of store credit for those respective shops.

To see the offer at Amazon, you'll have to scroll down to the "Special offers" section of the Pixel 6a's store page and click the "Add both to cart" button. The retailer will then ship a physical gift card with your purchase. You can pick up Target's gift card in-store or online, Best Buy's comes digitally via email, and the Google Store will apply it to your Google Store account after purchase. The deal applies to the unlocked version of the phone at each retailer, with activation at the major carriers through Best Buy or through Google Fi at the Google Store.

The Pixel 6a is the mid-range version of Google's impressive flagship phones, the $599 Pixel 6 and $899 Pixel 6 Pro, which released in late 2021. As it has done since the Pixel 3, Google followed up on its flagship devices with a lower-priced version through its A series, which has historically delivered great value in giving a strong taste of flagship performance (particularly in the camera) at a more palatable price.

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What’s inside the US’s first big climate bill?

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 2:00pm
Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer, who negotiated the new deal, talk earlier in the year.

Enlarge / Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer, who negotiated the new deal, talk earlier in the year. (credit: Chip Somodevilla )

At the end of June, the Supreme Court sent a message to the Biden administration: Any significant actions on the climate couldn't come through existing environmental laws. Instead, a clear congressional mandate for emissions reduction would be required. The administration had been working on getting such legislation through a narrowly divided Congress but continually ran afoul of Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who represents a conservative, coal-producing state and is personally invested in a coal-fired power plant.

On Wednesday, Manchin finally signaled that a deal was in place in the form of a 725-page-long package of legislation that's being termed the "Inflation Reduction Act of 2022." While its branding comes from changes in the tax code and a new drug pricing plan, the bill is heavily tilted toward actions to limit climate change, with billions of dollars of tax breaks going to renewable energy. While it's not guaranteed that this package will become law, having Manchin signed on greatly increases its chances.

Inflation? Tax breaks? I thought this was climate stuff

The structure of the package is the result of some quirks of the US political system. First, opposing climate legislation has become necessary to remain a Republican in good standing, meaning that this sort of bill needs to be passed purely on the strength of Democratic votes. That's no problem in the House of Representatives, where Democrats hold a slim majority. But in the Senate, which is split 50/50 between the two parties, any bills will be subject to a Republican filibuster that requires 60 votes to overcome.

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OctaGlove brings the underwater gripping power of the octopus to humans

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 1:33pm

Researchers have developed an octopus-inspired OctaGlove that can securely grip objects under water. Credit: Virginia Tech

Any rescue diver or salvage worker knows it can be tricky to grab hold of slippery objects in a watery environment, particularly if a more delicate touch is required. That's why scientists looked to the octopus for inspiration when they were developing a novel "OctaGlove," a wearable system for gripping underwater objects that mimics the arm of an octopus, according to a recent paper published in the journal Science Advances.

There are several examples in nature of efficient ways to latch onto objects in underwater environments, per the authors. Mussels, for instance, secrete adhesive proteins to attach themselves to wet surfaces, while frogs have uniquely structured toe pads that create capillary and hydrodynamic forces for adhesion. But cephalopods like the octopus have an added advantage: The adhesion supplied by their grippers can be quickly and easily reversed, so the creatures can adapt to changing conditions, attaching to wet and dry surfaces.

“When we look at the octopus, the adhesive certainly stands out, quickly activating and releasing adhesion on demand,” said co-author Michael Bartlett, a mechanical engineer at Virginia Tech. “What is just as interesting, though, is that the octopus controls over 2,000 suckers across eight arms by processing information from diverse chemical and mechanical sensors. The octopus is really bringing together adhesion tunability, sensing, and control to manipulate underwater objects.”

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Comcast stock falls as company fails to add Internet users for first time ever

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 1:15pm
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts speaking at an event.

Enlarge / Comcast CEO Brian Roberts at an event in Beijing on October 17, 2019.

Comcast is the largest Internet provider in the US with over 29.8 million residential broadband customers, but the company's long streak of adding Internet subscribers each quarter is finally over.

In Q2 2022 earnings announced today, Comcast said it has 29,826,000 residential broadband customers, a drop of 10,000 since Q1 2022, and 2,337,000 business broadband customers, a gain of 10,000. The overall tally of 32,163,000 residential and business Internet customers remained unchanged.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the company's cable division is experiencing "a unique and evolving macroeconomic environment that is temporarily putting pressure on the volume of our new customer connects." Comcast also lost cable-TV and VoIP phone customers in the quarter but added wireless phone subscribers.

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New PS5 system software beta adds two of users’ most-requested features

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 12:56pm

Sony has begun testing a software update that adds some key features users have been requesting for almost two years. While there's a lot going on in this update—it's one of the most significant since the PS5 first shipped—two features stand out.

The first is that the PS5 now supports 1440p output over HDMI. Previously, it supported 720p, 1080i, 1080p, and 4K, since those are the most common TV resolutions. But many players wanted to play the PS5 on their 1440p desktop computer monitors—something that both the Xbox and (obviously) gaming PCs have supported for a long time. Unfortunately, it seems that a PS5 outputting at 1440p does not support VRR like one at 1080p and 4K does, which might defeat the purpose for a certain subset of users.

There are quite a few games on the console that are a great fit for 1440p, especially since 1440p was the actual resolution for many PS4 Pro games, and it's a common resolution for the 60 fps or 120 fps performance modes of some PS5 games. Games that support native 1440p will output at just that.

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Meta to double the dose of force-fed filler on Instagram, Facebook in 2023 [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/28/2022 - 12:15pm
Meta to double the dose of force-fed filler on Instagram, Facebook in 2023 [Updated]

Enlarge (credit: SOPA Images / Contributor | LightRocket)

(Update at 5:17pm ET: A Meta spokesperson sent this statement in response to Instagram user complaints: “Based on our findings and community feedback, we’re pausing the full-screen test on Instagram so we can explore other options, and we're temporarily decreasing the number of recommendations you see in your feed so we can improve the quality of your experience. We recognize that changes to the app can be an adjustment, and while we believe that Instagram needs to evolve as the world changes, we want to take the time to make sure we get this right.”

Regarding recent improvements to the algorithm designed to combat misinformation spread, the spokesperson noted that Zuckerberg says on the call, "in general, we've made a lot of progress" on content moderation "over the last few years, and I'm quite proud of that." He says most content moderation is conducted through AI, and the company's Community Standards Enforcement Report will continue monitoring the AI's performance by tracking "what percent of the harmful content" that systems are "identifying and taking an action on before someone has to report it to us.")

Hundreds of thousands of people recently signed a Change.org petition asking Instagram to stop eating up space in their feeds by recommending so many Reels from accounts they do not follow. Shortly after, Instagram-owner Meta confirmed that these users aren’t just imagining that there’s a sudden avalanche of Reels ruining their online social lives. The short videos currently make up about 15 percent of Instagram and Facebook user feeds—and soon, even more often, they'll be shoving to the side all the updates from friends that users choose to follow.

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