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.

Apple’s MagSafe Battery Pack is available in stores now for $99

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 1:16pm

Apple's new MagSafe Battery Pack for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro is now available for in-store pickup, and the first online orders have arrived at buyers' doorsteps.

You can buy one online and have it shipped to you in the coming days or weeks (depending on where you live) or go to your local Apple Store to purchase one. Availability will depend on location.

Apple's website offers multiple ways to determine if your nearest retail location has the battery pack in stock. For example, if you're in the US, the online store page for the product attempts to automatically detect your ZIP code, or you can enter your ZIP code manually. The product page will then say whether the battery pack is available at the closest location.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The MAGA-targeted “Freedom Phone” has a breathtaking amount of red flags

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 12:51pm

"Nobody elected Mark [Zuckerberg] or Jack [Dorsey] to be the arbiters of truth in America," declares a man over a chorus of triumphant horns. "Yet they still thought it was OK to ban a sitting president from their platforms. If they censor the president, they'll censor anyone. Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg censored MLK or Abraham Lincoln. The course of history would have been altered forever!"

That's the sales pitch for the "Freedom Phone," a $500 smartphone aimed at the MAGA crowd. Just as we saw with Gab, Parler, and Voat, the Freedom Phone is the latest attempt to build an alternate tech platform for right-wingers, but this time with a smartphone instead of social media. When the phone was announced back in March, its tagline was "a phone made for conservatives, by conservatives." The device is being hawked by Erik Finman, the self-described "world's youngest bitcoin millionaire." The phone is supposed to ship in August.

The Freedom Phone's feature set is about what you would expect. The company (which seems to also be called "Freedom Phone") claims to have made an "uncensorable app store" that won't ban Gab and Parler the way Google and Apple did. "FreedomOS" is a "free-speech first" operating system that the company claims to have developed, and it says the hardware is "comparable to the best smartphones on the market." Based on the information that Freedom Phone has released so far, almost none of that seems to be true.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Report claims Apple will finally give the iPad mini some love

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 12:15pm

Apple is getting ready to introduce a redesigned iPad mini, according to a new report from 9to5Mac.

Though Apple updated the iPad mini with a faster processor and Apple Pencil support in late 2019, the basic design of the device has not changed since its introduction back in 2012.

Like so many Apple leaks, the article cites anonymous "sources familiar with the matter," so caution is advised. That said, 9to5Mac articles with similar language have turned out to be accurate in the past.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

ISPs spent $235 million on lobbying and donations, “more than $320,000 a day”

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 11:50am
A politician counting money in front of the US Capitol Building.

Enlarge

The biggest Internet service providers and their trade groups spent $234.7 million on lobbying and political donations during the most recent two-year congressional cycle, according to a report released yesterday. The ISPs and their trade groups lobbied against strict net neutrality rules and on various other telecom and broadband regulatory legislation, said the report written by advocacy group Common Cause.

Of the $234.7 million spent in 2019 and 2020, political contributions and expenditures accounted for $45.6 million. The rest of it went to lobbying expenditures.

Comcast led the way with $43 million in lobbying and political contributions and expenditures combined during the 2019-2020 cycle, the report said. The highest-spending ISPs after Comcast were AT&T with $36.4 million, Verizon with $24.8 million, Charter with $24.4 million, and T-Mobile with $21.5 million.

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Fans ask a PC game to drop Denuvo—and dev agrees, blames “performance impact”

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 11:26am
A video game logo and a company logo are combined on smashed pavement.

Enlarge / The Humankind hand slams down on Denuvo in this week's latest story of DRM woe. (credit: Aurich Lawson)

For years, PC gamers have wondered out loud whether antipiracy solutions like Denuvo get in the way of game performance, since the solutions tend to operate in the background in search of piracy-related flags. Denuvo-related game tests in the wild have ranged from inconclusive to damning.

This week, that debate gets worse for the makers of Denuvo: a video game developer has made the rare move of abandoning the DRM platform for its upcoming game's PC version—and it squarely blames Denuvo-related performance issues for the decision.

Amplitude Studios, a French studio known for PC-exclusive 4X strategy games, had previously announced that its next game, Humankind, would ship with a Denuvo implementation in August 2021. This prompted a post titled "The day Amplitude broke my heart" on Amplitude's official forum, with a fan declaring their love of prior Amplitude strategy games and then expressing their disappointment that Humankind had a Denuvo tag on its Steam page.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Good deal: The iPad Air is down to a new low of $500 today

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 11:10am
 The iPad Air is down to a new low of $500 today

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a big discount on Apple's iPad Air, as the 4th-generation tablet is currently down to $500 at Amazon and Best Buy. That's $100 off Apple's MSRP and roughly $50 off the average street price we've seen on Amazon over the past few months. Either way, the discount marks the lowest price we've tracked for the device from a mainstream retailer.

Note that this deal applies to the entry-level model with 64GB of storage; if you're wanting to step up to the higher-capacity 256GB model, that version is on sale for $650, another all-time low price.

We gave the iPad Air high marks in our review last November, calling it "the best pick from Apple's lineup for most people who can afford it." The recent introduction of new 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, both equipped with Apple's blazing M1 chip, has introduced a few more wrinkles, but generally speaking, the Air remains the closest thing to a "just right" option in Apple's current iPad lineup.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Olympic COVID bubble already “broken” with 71 cases, 3 in athlete village

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 10:55am
A barge carrying the Olympic Rings crosses Tokyo Bay.

Enlarge / A barge carrying the Olympic Rings crosses Tokyo Bay. (credit: Getty | Valery Sharifulin )

The number of COVID-19 cases linked to the Tokyo Olympics has risen to 71, with at least three cases confirmed within the Olympic Village that is housing athletes, according to reports out of Japan.

At least one public health expert says the rising case count indicates that the protective COVID bubble designed around the games has already burst days before the international sporting event even starts.

Olympics organizers said Tuesday that the tally hit 71, including 31 international travelers who had arrived in Tokyo to compete or work at the games, the Associated Press reports. The count also includes Olympic-accredited contractors and volunteers in Japan who have tested positive for the pandemic coronavirus.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

How much COVID misinformation is on Facebook? Its execs don’t want to know

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 8:12am
How much COVID misinformation is on Facebook? Its execs don’t want to know

Enlarge (credit: KJ Parish)

For years, misinformation has flourished on Facebook. Falsehoods, misrepresentations, and outright lies posted on the site have shaped the discourse on everything from national politics to public health.

But despite their role in facilitating communications for billions of people, Facebook executives refused to commit resources to understand the extent to which COVID-19-related misinformation pervaded its platform, according to a report in The New York Times.

Early in the pandemic, a group of data scientists at Facebook met with executives to propose a project that would determine how many users saw misleading or false information about COVID. It wasn’t a small task—they estimated that the process could take up to a year or more to complete—but it would give the company a solid understanding of the extent to which misinformation spread on its platform.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Our AI headline experiment continues: Did we break the machine?

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 8:00am
 Did we break the machine?

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

We're in phase three of our machine-learning project now—that is, we've gotten past denial and anger, and we're now sliding into bargaining and depression. I've been tasked with using Ars Technica's trove of data from five years of headline tests, which pair two ideas against each other in an "A/B" test to let readers determine which one to use for an article. The goal is to try to build a machine-learning algorithm that can predict the success of any given headline. And as of my last check-in, it was… not going according to plan.

I had also spent a few dollars on Amazon Web Services compute time to discover this. Experimentation can be a little pricey. (Hint: If you're on a budget, don't use the "AutoPilot" mode.)

We'd tried a few approaches to parsing our collection of 11,000 headlines from 5,500 headline tests—half winners, half losers. First, we had taken the whole corpus in comma-separated value form and tried a "Hail Mary" (or, as I see it in retrospect, a "Leeroy Jenkins") with the Autopilot tool in AWS' SageMaker Studio. This came back with an accuracy result in validation of 53 percent. This turns out to be not that bad, in retrospect, because when I used a model specifically built for natural-language processing—AWS' BlazingText—the result was 49 percent accuracy, or even worse than a coin-toss. (If much of this sounds like nonsense, by the way, I recommend revisiting Part 2, where I go over these tools in much more detail.)

Read 29 remaining paragraphs | Comments

41 percent of consumers say their next car will be electric

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 7:41am
symbol indicating a place to charge an electric car with energy in Catalonia Spain

Enlarge / The biggest impediment to EV adoption appears to be cost of ownership, according to EY's 2021 Mobility Consumer Index. (credit: Carlos Sanchez Pereyra/Getty Images)

Electric vehicles are increasingly breaking into the mainstream. According to a new survey conducted by EY, 41 percent of consumers planning to buy a car say their next vehicle will be a plug-in. And they're mainly making that decision because of the environmental impact.

EY surveyed 9,000 consumers across 13 countries (Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, the UK, and the US) in June of this year as part of its Mobility Consumer Index. The last time the firm conducted this survey, in September 2020, just 30 percent said their next car would be either a battery EV or plug-in hybrid EV.

Where do BEVs beat ICE?

EV adoption is moving faster in some places than others. In China, for example, 48 percent say their next car will be an EV, and only 43 percent say it will have an internal combustion engine (with 3 percent looking for a hydrogen fuel cell EV and the remaining 5 percent saying they are unsure). Sweden's numbers are near-identical, with a matching 48 percent wanting an EV.

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Apple under pressure over iPhone security after NSO spyware claims

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 6:59am
Apple under pressure over iPhone security after NSO spyware claims

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto | Getty Images)

Apple has come under pressure to collaborate with its Silicon Valley rivals to fend off the common threat of surveillance technology after a report alleged that NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware was used to target journalists and human rights activists.

Amnesty International, which analyzed dozens of smartphones targeted by clients of NSO, said Apple’s marketing claims about its devices’ superior security and privacy had been “ripped apart” by the discovery of vulnerabilities in even the most recent versions of its iPhones and iOS software.

“Thousands of iPhones have potentially been compromised,” said Danna Ingleton, deputy director of Amnesty’s tech unit. “This is a global concern—anyone and everyone is at risk, and even technology giants like Apple are ill-equipped to deal with the massive scale of surveillance at hand.”

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Blue Origin successfully completes its first human launch [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Tue, 07/20/2021 - 3:40am
Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket launches from a remote site in West Texas.

Enlarge / Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket launches from a remote site in West Texas. (credit: Blue Origin)

9:45am ET Update: At 8:12 am local time in West Texas, about one hour after sunrise, Blue Origin's New Shepard launch system rocketed into the sky. The mission carried an eclectic mix of passengers—billionaire Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark, famed female aviator Wally Funk, and 18-year-old Oliver Daemen.

All four emerged from the capsule, in the west Texas desert, less than 20 minutes later. During the flight they reached an altitude of 107 km, crossing the internationally agreed upon boundary of space.

This was Blue Origin's first human spaceflight and follows Virgin Galactic's successful flight of its founder, Sir Richard Branson, nine days ago. We truly have entered into a new era of human spaceflight.

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Dish switching network to AT&T after calling T-Mobile anticompetitive

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 3:12pm
A glass door with the logo for Dish Wireless.

Enlarge (credit: Dish Network)

Dish Network has agreed to pay AT&T at least $5 billion over 10 years for network access amid a feud between Dish and T-Mobile.

Dish is in the early stages of building a 5G network and in the meantime is serving customers as a reseller using network capacity that it purchases from T-Mobile. But Dish and T-Mobile are fighting over T-Mobile's plan to shut down its 3G CDMA network earlier than it originally intended, with Dish accusing T-Mobile of anticompetitive behavior.

Against that backdrop, Dish today announced "the signing of a transformative, long-term strategic Network Services Agreement with AT&T, making AT&T the primary network services partner for Dish MVNO [mobile virtual network operator] customers."

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The surprising connection between a mockingbird’s song and Kendrick Lamar

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 3:05pm

New study explores how the mockingbird structures its song, using techniques of timbre change, pitch change, stretch, and squeeze. These are similar strategies used in Tuvan throat singing, Beethoven, Broadway musicals, and hip hop.

What do the remarkably complex songs of the mockingbird have in common with Tuvan throat singing, Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony," the song "Show Yourself" from Frozen 2, and Kendrick Lamar's "Duckworth"? According to a recent paper published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, the mockingbird follows similar musical rules when composing its songs to those used in human music.

"When you listen for a while to a mockingbird, you can hear that the bird isn't just randomly stringing together the melodies it imitates," said co-author Tina Roeske, a neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics. "Rather, it seems to sequence similar snippets of melody according to consistent rules. In order to examine this hunch scientifically, however, we had to use quantitative analyses to test whether the data actually supported our hypotheses."

Mockingbirds are known for their ability to mimic other birds and certain sounds from their surrounding environment, provided those sounds fall into the mockingbird's acoustic range. For example, the birds can mimic blue jays but not ravens, tree frogs but not bullfrogs. Over half of the mockingbird's songs are mimicry, and the species boasts an impressive repertoire composed of hundreds of types of phrases.

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Pandemic of unvaccinated rages with delta’s spread; cases up in all 50 states

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 3:05pm
Anthony Church says goodbye through glass windows to his daughter, who is recovering from COVID-19 at Johnston Memorial Hospital's ICU on June 16, 2021, in Abingdon, Va.

Enlarge / Anthony Church says goodbye through glass windows to his daughter, who is recovering from COVID-19 at Johnston Memorial Hospital's ICU on June 16, 2021, in Abingdon, Va. (credit: Getty | The Washington Post)

With the rapid rise of the highly transmissible delta variant and national vaccination efforts largely stalled, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage among the unvaccinated in the US—and things are looking grim.

Cases of COVID-19 are rising in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Right now, the states with the highest averages for daily new cases per 100,000 people are Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, Louisiana, and Nevada, which all have below-average vaccination rates. Nationwide, average daily cases are up 140 percent over the past two weeks. Hospitalizations and deaths, which lag behind increases in cases by weeks, are also up 34 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

Relative to the rest of the pandemic, the nationwide numbers of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are low—they're matching or are below numbers seen back in April of 2020. But rates of cases among the unvaccinated in some places rival those seen at the heights of the pandemic. And areas with low vaccination coverage are seeing surges.

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Genealogists say Leonardo da Vinci has 14 living relatives

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 2:16pm
Analysis of the reputed self-portrait drawing by Leonardo da Vinci (~1515, Biblioteca Reale, Turin).

Enlarge / Analysis of the reputed self-portrait drawing by Leonardo da Vinci (~1515, Biblioteca Reale, Turin). (credit: C. Tyler/Saiko, Creative Commons)

A recently assembled Leonardo da Vinci family tree, spanning 21 generations from 1331 to the present, could pave the way for DNA testing that might confirm whether the bones interred in da Vinci’s grave are actually his. Two art historians’ hopes of uncovering a genetic explanation for the Renaissance artist’s brilliance, however, will probably be doomed by scientific reality.

Da Vinci’s modern family

To construct the family tree, art historians Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato dug through birth, death, and property records spanning the last 690 years. They also interviewed surviving relatives to learn more about the famous artist, scientist, and inventor’s modern extended family. In the end, they traced da Vinci’s family from his grandfather, born in 1331, to the 14 relatives living today. Leonardo da Vinci himself had no children, and his modern relatives all descend from his 22 (!) half-siblings.

The present family played an essential role in the new study. “Many of them have collaborated, together with their relatives, to the collection and verification of information,” wrote Vezzosi and Sabato, “helping enthusiastically to contact other family members and retrieve new documents and images.” Those many-times-great nieces and nephews include several office workers (one of whom served as a naval gunner in the 1960s), a retired upholsterer, a surveyor, and a state employee who is “passionate about motorcycling and music.” The oldest is now 85 years old, and the youngest is just one year old.

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“Clickless” exploits from Israeli firm hacked activists’ fully updated iPhones

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 1:44pm
“Clickless” exploits from Israeli firm hacked activists’ fully updated iPhones

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Smartphones belonging to more than three dozen journalists, human rights activists, and business executives have been infected with powerful spyware that an Israeli firm sells, purportedly to catch terrorists and criminals, The Washington Post and other publications reported.

The handsets were infected with Pegasus, full-featured spyware developed by NSO Group. The Israel-based exploit seller has come under intense scrutiny in recent years after repressive governments in the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, and other countries have been found using the malware against journalists, activists, and other groups not affiliated with terrorism or crime.

Pegasus is frequently installed through “zero-click” exploits, such as those sent by text messages, which require no interaction from victims. After the exploits surreptitiously jailbreak or root a target's iPhone or Android device, Pegasus immediately trawls through a wealth of the device's resources. It copies call histories, text messages, calendar entries, and contacts. It is capable of activating the cameras and microphones of compromised phones to eavesdrop on nearby activities. It can also track a target's movements and steal messages from end-to-end encrypted chat apps.

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The massive Museum of Pinball is closing its doors for good

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 12:44pm

In 2015, we took you on a photo tour of the Museum of Pinball, home to one of the world's largest collections of pinball and arcade games under one roof. Since then, the number of games grew by hundreds; the last official count was "over 1,100."

Sadly, the museum is closing for good (and being replaced by a cannabis-growing operation). An attempt to relocate the museum to Palm Springs, California, failed, and the entire collection of games will be going up for auction soon.

Lead tech for the museum Chuck Casey posted this update:

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New iOS 14.7, tvOS 14.7, and watchOS 7.6 updates expand ECG support and more

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 12:21pm
The MagSafe Battery Pack, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max

Enlarge / The MagSafe Battery pack attached to iPhone 12 Pro models. (credit: Apple)

Apple pushed out new versions of its iOS, tvOS, and watchOS operating systems for iPhone, Apple TV, and Apple Watch devices on Monday. Dubbed iOS 14.7, tvOS 14.7, and watchOS 7.6, the updates are relatively small and include tweaks, bug fixes, and a minor new feature or two.

The primary impetus for the iOS update seems to be added support for the recently launched MagSafe Battery Pack that is compatible with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro lines.

Additionally, Apple Card holders can now "combine credit limits and share one account with an existing Apple Card user," a new option that Apple first announced earlier this year.

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US warns China over state-sponsored hacking, citing mass attacks on Exchange

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 12:02pm
The flags of the US and China rippling on flagpoles on a windy day.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | cbarnesphotography)

The US government blamed the Chinese government on Monday for attacks on thousands of Microsoft Exchange servers.

China's Ministry of State Security (MSS) "has fostered an ecosystem of criminal contract hackers who carry out both state-sponsored activities and cybercrime for their own financial gain," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that blamed the MSS for the Microsoft Exchange hacks. The US government and its allies "formally confirmed that cyber actors affiliated with the MSS exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server in a massive cyber espionage operation that indiscriminately compromised thousands of computers and networks, mostly belonging to private sector victims," Blinken said.

Blinken's statement was released alongside a Justice Department announcement that three MSS officers and one other Chinese national were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to a different series of hacks into the "computer systems of dozens of victim companies, universities, and government entities in the United States and abroad between 2011 and 2018." Blinken said that the US "and countries around the world are holding the People's Republic of China (PRC) accountable for its pattern of irresponsible, disruptive, and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace, which poses a major threat to our economic and national security."

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