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.

Microsoft changes course, gives gamers a reason to stick with Windows 10

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 11:45am
Microsoft has advertised "Xbox Velocity Architecture" to summarize a range of game-loading boosts for its newest consoles. The upcoming DirectStorage API is primed to bring some of those benefits to Windows PCs, but now that it is spread across two OSes, with varying speed expectations on each, will it have the same impact?

Enlarge / Microsoft has advertised "Xbox Velocity Architecture" to summarize a range of game-loading boosts for its newest consoles. The upcoming DirectStorage API is primed to bring some of those benefits to Windows PCs, but now that it is spread across two OSes, with varying speed expectations on each, will it have the same impact? (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft's Windows 11 unveiling in June came with announcements across the company's many departments, including a warning from the company's gaming division: you'll need Windows 11 to play games that employ select "next-gen" APIs, particularly the new DirectStorage API.

On Friday, the company's DirectX team walked that OS restriction back.

"Microsoft is committed to ensuring that when game developers adopt a new API, they can reach as many gamers as possible," DirectX Program Manager Hassan Uraizee writes in explaining that the upcoming DirectStorage API will no longer be Windows 11-exclusive. This statement comes alongside Microsoft's launch of a DirectStorage preview program that will let developers immediately begin testing this feature in intensive 3D software. The API, among other things, redirects I/O calls for 3D graphical assets directly to a computer's GPU.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

What’s it like to drive a Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport... in traffic?

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 11:29am

I'm not sure anything can adequately prepare you to drive a modern Bugatti. If the thought of more than a megawatt of power under your right foot isn't daunting enough, there's the price tag. The Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport that we tested goes for $3,959,000. All press test drives require the presence of a chaperone—in our case, the affable Butch Leitzinger, one of a handful of racing drivers that Bugatti employs for this reason.

In fact, the car is so far out of the normal frame of reference that it's perhaps even more daunting to write about than to drive, as evinced by the fact that it has taken me many weeks to properly marshal these words.

At least there's no 300 mph (405 km/h) top speed to worry about. Topping out at 218 mph (350 km/h) means the Chiron Pur Sport is actually the slowest car Bugatti has made since its (second) resurrection in 1998. In terms of top speed, that is. Because it's also probably the quickest car Bugatti has ever made in terms of acceleration, sacrificing a bit of Vmax for even more brutal acceleration. No pressure, then.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google delays in-app billing crackdown after wave of US antitrust lawsuits

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 9:17am
Google delays in-app billing crackdown after wave of US antitrust lawsuits

Enlarge (credit: Google Play)

Earlier this month, Google was sued by dozens of state attorneys general over its Play Store policies. Just over a week later, the company is essentially delaying the enforcement of one of its most significant upcoming changes: a decree that all Play Store apps must use Google's in-app billing or face a ban. Developers can now request a six-month extension to the deadline.

Back in September 2020, Google announced a crackdown on violations of its in-app billing rules. The Play Store rules have long said that apps must use Google's billing system for in-app purchases (so that Google gets a cut), but many apps just ignored this rule without repercussions. Last year's announcement said that this practice would end by September 30, 2021, and all in-app purchases—including subscriptions from the likes of Netflix and Spotify—would need to run through Google.

Late Friday, Google posted an update, saying, "After carefully considering feedback from both large and small developers, we are giving developers an option to request a 6-month extension, which will give them until March 31, 2022 to comply with our Payments policy." Google doesn't mention the antitrust lawsuits in its blog post, instead pitching this delay as a solution to an engineering problem. Even with a one-year notice of the deadline, Google claims that the pandemic is making it difficult for developers to switch to Google's in-app billing system on time:

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Biden blasts social media after Facebook stonewalls admin over vaccine misinformation

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/19/2021 - 9:00am
President Biden sitting at a table and speaking while gesturing with his hand.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Pool)

President Joe Biden and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy spent the last several days hammering social media companies for their platforms’ roles in spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

“They’re killing people,” Biden said, when asked about the role of social networks in the spread of misinformation. “Look, the only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. They’re killing people.” His comments came after Facebook reportedly stonewalled the White House. For weeks, officials unsuccessfully petitioned Facebook to share details about how it is fighting vaccine misinformation on its platforms, according to a report in The New York Times.

The assault continued on Sunday when Murthy appeared on CNN. “These platforms have to recognize they’ve played a major role in the increase in speed and scale with which misinformation is spreading,” he said. And White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki faulted Facebook last Thursday for the pace of its moderation. “Facebook needs to move more quickly to remove violative posts,” she said. “Posts that will be within their policies’ removal often remain up for days. That's too long. The information spreads too quickly.”

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google details its protein-folding software, academics offer an alternative

ArsTechnica - Sun, 07/18/2021 - 6:45am
Image of two multi-colored traces of complex structures.

Enlarge (credit: University of Washington)

Thanks to the development of DNA-sequencing technology, it has become trivial to obtain the sequence of bases that encode a protein and translate that to the sequence of amino acids that make up the protein. But from there, we often end up stuck. The actual function of the protein is only indirectly specified by its sequence. Instead, the sequence dictates how the amino acid chain folds and flexes in three-dimensional space, forming a specific structure. That structure is typically what dictates the function of the protein, but obtaining it can require years of lab work.

For decades, researchers have tried to develop software that can take a sequence of amino acids and accurately predict the structure it will form. Despite this being a matter of chemistry and thermodynamics, we've only had limited success—until last year. That's when Google's DeepMind AI group announced the existence of AlphaFold, which can typically predict structures with a high degree of accuracy.

At the time, DeepMind said it would give everyone the details on its breakthrough in a future peer-reviewed paper, which it finally released yesterday. In the meantime, some academic researchers got tired of waiting, took some of DeepMind's insights, and made their own. The paper describing that effort also was released yesterday.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Hackers got past Windows Hello by tricking a webcam

ArsTechnica - Sun, 07/18/2021 - 6:30am
Clearly the quickest way to bypass Microsoft facial recognition, no?

Clearly the quickest way to bypass Microsoft facial recognition, no?

Biometric authentication is a key piece of the tech industry's plans to make the world password-less. But a new method for duping Microsoft's Windows Hello facial-recognition system shows that a little hardware fiddling can trick the system into unlocking when it shouldn't.

Services like Apple's FaceID have made facial-recognition authentication more commonplace in recent years, with Windows Hello driving adoption even farther. Apple only lets you use FaceID with the cameras embedded in recent iPhones and iPads, and it's still not supported on Macs at all. But because Windows hardware is so diverse, Hello facial recognition works with an array of third-party webcams. Where some might see ease of adoption, though, researchers from the security firm CyberArk saw potential vulnerability.

That's because you can't trust any old webcam to offer robust protections in how it collects and transmits data. Windows Hello facial recognition works only with webcams that have an infrared sensor in addition to the regular RGB sensor. But the system, it turns out, doesn't even look at RGB data. Which means that with one straight-on infrared image of a target's face and one black frame, the researchers found that they could unlock the victim's Windows Hello–protected device.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Collectors are as confused as you are about that $1.56M Super Mario 64 sale

ArsTechnica - Sun, 07/18/2021 - 6:00am
Collectors say bare cartridges in "sous vide" condition can command a premium at auction.

Enlarge / Collectors say bare cartridges in "sous vide" condition can command a premium at auction. (credit: Aurich Lawson)

If you aren't immersed in the world of high-end video game collecting, it's probably hard to understand why someone paid in excess of $1.5 million for a single, shrinkwrap-sealed boxed copy of Super Mario 64 last Sunday. But if you talk to people who have been collecting games and following this insular world for decades, you'll find... well, they also think it's hard to understand.

The confusing part isn't even the sheer amount of money being spent on a video game box that no one will ever open, much less play. Ever since an early sealed printing of Super Mario Bros. sold for over $100,000 in 2019, the general consensus in the world of high-end game collecting was that an eventual seven-figure game sale was inevitable. But even after a $660,000 Super Mario Bros. sale two months ago, many didn't think the flashy million-dollar barrier would be broken so quickly. "I honestly thought that this was a milestone that we wouldn't pass until years from now," Heritage Auctions Video Game Consignment Director Valarie McLeckie told Ars.

More than the timing, though, game collectors that spoke to Ars expressed near-universal shock that this was the first game to command such a high price. In the past, the small handful of games that have sold for $100,000 or more have all been extremely rare and notable in some way. The Legend of Zelda that temporarily set an $870,000 sales record earlier in Heritage's recent weekend auction, for instance, was described in the listing as "the only copy from one of the earliest production runs that we've ever had the opportunity to offer" for an iconic game.

Read 45 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Twitch streamers rake in millions with a shady crypto gambling boom

ArsTechnica - Sun, 07/18/2021 - 4:45am
A slot machine

Enlarge / We just assume this is what the slots in an online cryptocurrency casino look like, but I guess we can see them in action on Twitch. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Tyler Niknam was getting out of Texas. Niknam, 30, is a top streamer on Twitch, where he’s better known as Trainwrecks to his 1.5 million followers. For hours on end, Niknam was hitting the slots on Stake.com, an online cryptocurrency casino and his most prominent Twitch sponsor, to live audiences of 25,000. He’d been winning big, sometimes as much as $400,000 in crypto in one fell swoop, and he never seemed to go broke. The problem? It wasn’t allowed.

If you visit Stake on a US-based browser, a message will quickly pop up on the site: “Due to our gaming license, we cannot accept players from the United States.” Though Stake doesn't possess a gambling license in any state, Nikam and other US gamblers easily circumvent this by using VPNs. Promoting gambling sites that cannot operate in the US and making money by referring US residents to them may constitute promoting illegal gambling, legal experts told WIRED.

“Canada needs to happen asap,” Niknam wrote in a private Discord DM to Felix “xQc” Lengyel, 25, Twitch’s number two streamer. Lengyel briefly streamed slots but stopped in June. “You cannot show you’re on Stake at all.” A few days later, Niknam arrived in Canada, where he settled into a routine—gambling in a mostly empty apartment, sometimes more than a dozen hours a day. (Niknam and Lengyel did not respond to WIRED’s requests for comment.)

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The weekend’s best tech deals: Mass Effect, Jabra wireless earbuds, and more

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/17/2021 - 8:27am
A collage of electronic consumer goods against a white background.

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

This weekend's edition of the Dealmaster includes the first major deal we've seen on the recently released Mass Effect: Legendary Edition; a good price drop on Jabra's Elite 75t, one of our favorite pairs of true wireless earbuds; and a sweeping sale on Amazon's Fire HD Kids tablets, among many other good prices on gadgets and gear. You can find our full curated roundup below.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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Gus Grissom taught NASA a hard lesson: “You can hurt yourself in the ocean”

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/17/2021 - 7:25am
Is Gus Grissom angry after the Liberty Bell 7 nearly took him to the bottom of the ocean? Weary? Thoroughly shaken? It's hard to know for sure.

Enlarge / Is Gus Grissom angry after the Liberty Bell 7 nearly took him to the bottom of the ocean? Weary? Thoroughly shaken? It's hard to know for sure. (credit: NASA)

Update, July 17, 2021: When it comes to NASA history, July 21 may not have the same significance as July 20, the date when Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969. But back on July 21, 1961, another pivotal moment in the evolution of human spaceflight took place when Gus Grissom splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean within a small Mercury capsule—almost drowning in the process. The lessons NASA learned that day and in the following weeks undoubtedly changed the course of human spaceflight. This overlooked event has its 60th anniversary next Wednesday, and as such we're resurfacing Space Editor Eric Berger's examination of Grissom's landing from the Ars archives. This story first published on November 8, 2016, and it appears unchanged below.

Gus Grissom had just entered the history books. A mere 10 weeks after Alan Shepard made America’s first human flight into space, Grissom followed with the second one, a 15-minute suborbital hop that took him to an altitude of 189km above the blue planet. After the small Mercury capsule’s parachutes deployed, Grissom splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean, seemingly bringing a flawless mission to a close.

Only it wasn't flawless, nor was it closed. At that moment, Gus Grissom almost drowned.

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Slow train across Siberia offers glimpse of Russia’s rail ambitions

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/17/2021 - 6:00am
Tiny figures walk on a frozen lake at sunset or sunrise.

Enlarge

On the shore of Lake Baikal, deep in eastern Siberia, one of the most ambitious feats of modern Russian rail engineering is nearing completion.

The Baikalsky tunnel, carved through 7 km of mountain rock, has taken seven years to build, with construction teams laboring in temperatures as low as minus 60° Celsius (-76° Fahrenheit).

Designed to withstand the weekly earthquakes that strike this remote corner of Russia, it is the flagship project of the redevelopment of one of the country’s most iconic rail lines that aims to propel the Soviet-era train network into the 21st century.

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A troll, a pregnant man, and a low battery make the list of proposed new emoji

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/17/2021 - 4:30am

Today is World Emoji Day, a thing I never knew existed until two years ago when Ford publicized that it was trying to get a pickup truck added to the official set. Truth be told, I forgot all about World Emoji Day almost immediately, but I was reminded again this week when I saw the list of potential new additions being considered by the Unicode Consortium for inclusion into Unicode 14.

Some of these potential emoji would be useful for talking about the climate emergency—I'm thinking of the melting face and also the coral here. I'm sure we can all use a troll in our lives, too, while the saluting face will replace the trusty o7. And the low battery is bound to be popular. There are some new hands, gesturing, pointing, shaking, and even making hand hearts, to boot.

A couple of additions might upset some reactionaries on the Internet, however. Specifically, the pregnant man and his gender neutral equivalent, the pregnant person, have been proposed as inclusive additions since pregnancy is possible for some transgender and non-binary people. The world may also soon receive a gender-neutral person with a crown option to go with the emoji man and woman wearing crowns.

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Facebook catches Iranian spies catfishing US military targets

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/17/2021 - 3:45am
Facebook catches Iranian spies catfishing US military targets

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

If you're a member of the US military who's gotten friendly Facebook messages from private-sector recruiters for months on end, suggesting a lucrative future in the aerospace or defense contractor industry, Facebook may have some bad news.

On Thursday, the social media giant revealed that it has tracked and at least partially disrupted a long-running Iranian hacking campaign that used Facebook accounts to pose as recruiters, reeling in US targets with convincing social engineering schemes before sending them malware-infected files or tricking them into submitting sensitive credentials to phishing sites. Facebook says that the hackers also pretended to work in the hospitality or medical industries, in journalism, or at NGOs or airlines, sometimes engaging their targets for months with profiles across several different social media platforms. And unlike some previous cases of Iranian state-sponsored social media catfishing that have focused on Iran's neighbors, this latest campaign appears to have largely targeted Americans and, to a lesser extent, UK and European victims.

Facebook says it has removed "fewer than 200" fake profiles from its platforms as a result of the investigation and notified roughly the same number of Facebook users that hackers had targeted them.

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Finger wrap could one day let you power up wearables while you sleep

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 2:41pm

A new wearable device turns the touch of a finger into a source of power for small electronics and sensors. (video link)

Wearables are so hot right now, with consumers scooping up more than 100 million units of smartwatches, fitness trackers, augmented reality glasses, and similar tech in the first quarter of 2021 alone. Sales in the category increased 34.4 percent in the second quarter from Q2 2020, making it one of the fastest-growing categories of personal electronics.

That rise comes with an increased demand for practical and efficient energy harvesters capable of continuously powering those wearables. Now, a team of engineers at the University of California San Diego has designed a new type of biofuel cell that harnesses energy from the sweat of your fingertips, according to a recent paper published in the journal Joule. The cell can also be integrated with piezoelectric generators to harvest energy from the pressing of the fingertip. The breakthrough could one day make it possible to power up your wearables as you type or sleep.

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Apple Watch lead Kevin Lynch shifts focus to car development

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 1:46pm
An Apple logo has been photoshopped onto an empty road at night.

Enlarge / A potential Apple car or self-driving vehicle platform is still years away, but a key executive has shifted his focus to it. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Another executive shuffle is underway at Apple, according to Insider. Kevin Lynch, a key Apple VP overseeing health and the Apple Watch, is moving into a new role working on Project Titan, Apple's car project.

Lynch has been one of the most visible Apple leaders at WWDC and the company's various product unveiling events. He is one of the faces of Apple's health initiatives and the Apple Watch.

The report doesn't go into much detail about what Lynch will be doing on the car project. Recently, Apple's automotive product development has been led by the company's AI chief, John Giannandrea.

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Disable the Windows print spooler to prevent hacks, Microsoft tells customers

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 1:38pm
Disable the Windows print spooler to prevent hacks, Microsoft tells customers

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Microsoft hit yet another snag in its efforts to lock down the Windows print spooler, as the software maker warned customers on Thursday to disable the service to contain a new vulnerability that helps attackers execute malicious code on fully patched machines.

The vulnerability is the third printer-related flaw in Windows to come to light in the past five weeks. A patch Microsoft released in June for a remote code-execution flaw failed to fix a similar but distinct flaw dubbed PrintNightmare, which also made it possible for attackers to run malicious code on fully patched machines. Microsoft released an unscheduled patch for PrintNightmare, but the fix failed to prevent exploits on machines using certain configurations.

Bring your own printer driver

On Thursday, Microsoft warned of a new vulnerability in the Windows print spooler. The privilege-escalation flaw, tracked as CVE-2021-34481, allows hackers who already have the ability to run malicious code with limited system rights to elevate those rights. The elevation allows the code to access sensitive parts of Windows so malware can run each time a machine is rebooted.

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An Alabama lawmaker just wants NASA to fly SLS, doesn’t care about payloads

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 1:29pm
Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., is seen at NASA headquarters in 2019.

Enlarge / Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., is seen at NASA headquarters in 2019. (credit: NASA)

The US House Appropriations Committee passed a budget bill for NASA on Thursday, and it's generally good for the space agency. The legislation provides $25.04 billion, and it funds most of NASA's top spaceflight priorities, including the Artemis Moon program.

Notably, the bill appropriates $1.345 billion for a Human Landing System as part of the Artemis Program. And although some House members grumbled during hearings this week about NASA's decision in April to select SpaceX as the sole provider of the first demonstration landing, the legislation does not block NASA from moving forward with the contract.

As part of its plan to return humans to the Moon, NASA has sought to balance its reliance on traditional space contractors such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin—generally favored by members of Congress due to their largesse in political donations and willingness to spread jobs across numerous districts—and new space companies such as SpaceX that deliver more bang for the buck while not playing as well with elected officials.

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Expert panel says new $56K Alzheimer’s drug is unproven—and worth $8,400 max

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 1:18pm
Multistory glass office building.

Enlarge / The exterior of the headquarters of biotechnology company Biogen in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (credit: Getty | Boston Globe)

Biogen's new Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm continues to face opposition after its contentious approval by the Food and Drug Administration last month—which the FDA now says should be independently investigated. Some insurers say they won't pay for the drug, some hospitals say they won't administer it, and yet more experts say it has no proven benefit and is dramatically overpriced at $56,000 for a year's supply.

On Thursday, a panel of medical experts convened by the nonprofit Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) voted 15 to 0 to say that there is no evidence that Aduhelm provides clinical benefit to patients. The unanimous vote echoes another one from a panel of expert advisors for the Food and Drug Administration who voted last November against FDA approval. Eleven of ten advisors voted that data collected in two identical Phase III clinical trials failed to show that the drug is effective, with the remaining advisor voting "uncertain."

The FDA nevertheless approved the drug on June 7, sparking a firestorm of criticism. In an unprecedented move last week, the FDA updated its recommendation for who should receive the drug, significantly narrowing the pool from all Alzheimer's patients to only those with mild disease. It's unusual for the FDA to make such a modification so soon after an initial decision and without fresh data to back a change.

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HTML holes provide a glimpse of Steam Deck’s initial preorder numbers

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 12:45pm

Though Valve is fiercely protective of its PC game sales data, a rare HTML hole in its Steam service revealed apparently firm order numbers for the Steam Deck, the company's recently confirmed Switch-like portable gaming PC.

For the first 90 minutes of the system's preorder period earlier today—as limited to shoppers in North America, the UK, and the EU—Valve's database coughed up exact preorder numbers, thanks to "queue" metadata appearing in publicly viewable calls to the HTML version of Steam. During that time, SteamDB creator Pavel Djundik kept track of the sales tally, and by his count, the publicly reported queue for confirmed preorders exceeded 110,000 across those three sales regions.

Djundik's count was limited to Steam Deck's pricier SKUs, so the estimate doesn't account for sales of the cheapest, $399 version (which comes with 64GB of onboard storage). His count, as backed up by other users' image captures of sales data through the preorder period's first 90 minutes, boils down as follows:

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California’s ambitious fiber-Internet plan approved unanimously by legislature

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 12:12pm
Illustration of fiber-optic cables.

Enlarge / Illustration of fiber-optic cables. (credit: Getty Images | Tetra Images)

The California legislature unanimously approved a plan to build a statewide, open-access fiber network yesterday. The legislation was supported by Democrats and Republicans in votes of 78-0 in the California Assembly and 39-0 in the state Senate.

The statewide, open-access fiber lines will function as a "middle-mile" network that carries data from Internet backbone networks to connection points in cities and rural areas. A middle-mile network doesn't extend all the way to residential properties, but "last-mile" ISPs can get access to it and focus on building infrastructure that connects the middle mile to homes.

California's decision to make the middle-mile network open-access means it will provide "non-discriminatory access to eligible entities on a technology and competitively neutral basis, regardless of whether the entity is privately or publicly owned," the bill text said. If all goes as planned, the network will make it easier for existing ISPs to expand and for new ISPs to get started, filling in gaps where there's no modern access and boosting competition and speeds in other areas. Last-mile ISPs could use network technology other than fiber to connect to homes because of the provision allowing technology-neutral access.

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