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.

Here’s the new car Formula 1 hopes will improve racing in 2022

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 12:00pm

On Thursday in Silverstone, England, ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix, Formula 1 revealed next year's car to the public. 2022 will see the biggest shake-up to the sport's technical regulations since the introduction of the turbocharged hybrid powertrains in 2014. There has been a fundamental change in the way the car creates its aerodynamic downforce, with the goal being to make it easier for F1 cars to race each other closely. Ars spoke to Rob Smedley, director of data systems at F1, to find out why and how the new car came to be.

What’s the problem?

The cars that will race each other at Silverstone this weekend use the air to generate grip through a combination of the front wing and rear diffuser. And they make an awful lot of downforce, which is part of the reason F1 lap times have reached historic lows. The problem is what happens to the air after it has passed over an F1 car's body—it becomes a massive wake of disturbed air. A wing running in turbulent air won't work nearly as efficiently as a wing running in clean air, and that means it's very hard for one car to follow another closely enough to try and overtake—something that F1 fans have told the sport they want to see more often.

"As the [2021] car moves in, let's say a second behind, it's losing around 25 percent of its downforce," Smedley said. "As it moves in to about half a second—a closing distance and getting to the point where they could start to have this wheel to wheel interaction—at that point, it loses 40 percent of its downforce. So the loss is immense."

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Counterfeiters are hungry for a piece of Apple’s $16B AirPod market

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 11:04am
These AirPods, displayed at the Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino, are genuine—but spotting the difference between real and counterfeit electronics isn't always simple.

Enlarge / These AirPods, displayed at the Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino, are genuine—but spotting the difference between real and counterfeit electronics isn't always simple. (credit: SOPA Images via Getty)

US Customs and Border Protection reports that so far in fiscal year 2021, it has seized about 360,000 sets of wireless headphones, worth an estimated $62.2 million. That's only nine months' worth of seizures—but it's already more than the 290,000 sets worth $61.7 million that were seized throughout fiscal year 2020.

In one such large seizure, CBP seized roughly 6,400 counterfeit AirPods and AirPods Pro in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 11th. If the seized goods had been genuine, their combined Apple MSRP would have been about $1.3 million—but the five seized shipments were manifested at only $312 each. All five shipments were headed for a single address in Brownsville, Texas.

Then again, the feds may not always get it right. In September 2020, CBP in New York City seized a 2,000 unit shipment of perfectly legitimate OnePlus earbuds headed for Nevada, claiming they were "counterfeit AirPods." When pressed about the error, CBP doubled down, saying that a company "does not have to put an 'Apple' wordmark or design on their products" to violate trademark law and adding that importers "have many opportunities... to provide evidence that their product does not violate the relevant recorded trademarks."

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Delta stole its pilot’s messaging app, should pay $1 billion, lawsuit alleges

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 10:49am
Delta stole its pilot’s messaging app, should pay $1 billion, lawsuit alleges

Enlarge (credit: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket )

A pilot for Delta Airlines is suing his own company for $1 billion, alleging that it stole an app he created.

Captain Craig Alexander, an 11-year veteran who flies 757s, developed a messaging app called QrewLive that facilitated flight crew communications. He says he pitched the app to Delta management, who, after allegedly expressing interest, ultimately turned him down before releasing a similar app of its own.

Alexander says he worked on the project on his own time and spent $100,000 of his own money to create the app. He says he had several meetings with Delta about the app in 2015 and 2016 in which executives allegedly showed interest in acquiring the software. After 2016, though, Delta stopped communicating with Alexander about the app, and in April 2018, the airline released its own app, called Flight Family Communications.

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Xiaomi passes Apple to become the #2 smartphone vendor

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 10:24am

There's a new second-place vendor in the smartphone world: Xiaomi. The latest report from analyst firm Canalys puts the Chinese company second in worldwide smartphone shipments for Q2 2021, behind Samsung and ahead of Apple. According to Canalys' data, Samsung is still the top dog, with 19 percent market share in Q2 2021, followed by Xiaomi at 17 percent, Apple at 14 percent, and Oppo and Vivo at 10 percent.

The whole smartphone market grew 12 percent this quarter as the economy begins to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. Worldwide, Oppo and Vivo were up 28 and 27 percent, respectively, while Samsung was up 15. Apple barely moved, at 1 percent growth. Xiaomi's growth to second makes it the big winner, with a whopping 83 percent jump compared to the previous quarter. Xiaomi has traditionally targeted super-aggressive specs and price points for the biggest markets, like India and China, but Canalys says Xiaomi is now seeing big growth in other territories. The firm's numbers show Xiaomi growing "300% in Latin America, 150% in Africa, and 50% in Western Europe." Xiaomi has yet to tackle the US smartphone market in any meaningful way.

Canalys declares Xiaomi to be the second place victor this quarter, but it's hard not to notice that the BBK conglomerate is all over these market share charts. Canalys and Counterpoint both respect BBK's brand separations, but if you combined all of BBK's phone brands—Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Realme—the company would easily be the world's number 1 smartphone vendor. There are barely any differences between the various brands today anyway. BBK is basically the smartphone market's version of General Motors, with a million "badge engineered" variants of the same basic phones.

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Hubble is back, thanks to backup hardware

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 9:52am
Image of the Hubble Space Telescope with Earth as a backdrop.

Enlarge (credit: NASA)

NASA announced on Friday that it has switched to backup computing hardware on the Hubble Space Telescope, potentially ending over a month of uncertainty regarding the telescope's future. The success came just two days after the agency indicated that it had narrowed down the source of the original fault.

The iconic telescope has been offline since mid-June, when the payload computer started failing in attempts to write data to memory. This computer is responsible for both managing the scientific instruments and ensuring that the data they produce is sent back to Earth. While its failure didn't pose any dangers to the hardware itself, it left the telescope unable to perform any observations.

The telescope is equipped with backups for all its computing hardware (and in the case of the memory, backups for the backups). But every attempt to switch to one of these resulted in the same errors, suggesting that the problem wasn't with the memory or processing hardware but rather part of the hardware that supports the entire system. Attention eventually focused on the power supply. As NASA put it:

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Rocket Report: SpaceX tests FAA again in Texas, India pushes Vikas engine

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/16/2021 - 4:00am
Images from the flight of VSS Unity.

Enlarge / VSS Unity burns its rocket motor on July 11, 2021. (credit: Virgin Galactic)

Welcome to Edition 4.07 of the Rocket Report! Looking back to Virgin Galactic's flight and ahead to Blue Origin, we're continuing to experience a very special moment in human spaceflight history this week, with final preparations underway for Jeff Bezos and the first crew flight of New Shepard. I'll be on hand, in West Texas, to report on all the action for Ars.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Richard Branson finally does it. A new era opened this past weekend when Sir Richard flew alongside Virgin Galactic employees Beth Moses, Sirisha Bandla, and Colin Bennett above 80 km, NASA's definition of space. In doing so, the spacecraft's pilots and crew opened a future that is full of both promise and uncertainty. Spaceflight has changed forever. In a feature, Ars explores the history of private spaceflight and digs into its future.

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Review: Loki’s surprising twists paid off with a major cliffhanger finale

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 3:05pm

It should be obvious by now that Marvel Studios is leaning hard into the multiverse concept for Phase 4 of the MCU, and the Disney+ series Loki developed that multiverse even further as it concluded its six-episode run this week. Granted, the finale proved to be a bit "talky-talky" and heavy on the exposition. But it ended on one hell of a cliffhanger than sets up any number of tantalizing possibilities for the MCU as a whole—particularly Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, currently scheduled for release next March.

(Major spoilers for the finale are below the second gallery. We'll give you a heads up when we get there.)

As we've reported previously, the launching point for Loki the series is that scene in Avengers: Endgame when a 2012 version of Loki snags the tesseract containing the Space Stone and vanishes through a portal. Our trickster soon encounters a team of armed guards who "arrest" him on behalf of an entity known as the Time Variance Authority (TVA), the "custodians of chronology" in the MCU, monitoring violations to the Sacred Timeline. Catch the TVA's attention by trying to change history, and you just might meet the wrong end of the Retroactive Cannon (Ret Con) and have your entire history deleted from the historical timeline.

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For years, a backdoor in popular KiwiSDR product gave root to project developer

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 12:22pm
Screenshot of Kiwi SDR.

Enlarge (credit: KiwiSDR)

KiwiSDR is hardware that uses a software-defined radio to monitor transmissions in a local area and stream them over the Internet. A largely hobbyist base of users does all kinds of cool things with the playing-card-sized devices. For instance, a user in Manhattan could connect one to the Internet so that people in Madrid, Spain, or Sydney, Australia, could listen to AM radio broadcasts, CB radio conversations, or even watch lightning storms in Manhattan.

On Wednesday, users learned that for years, their devices had been equipped with a backdoor that allowed the KiwiSDR creator—and possibly others—to log in to the devices with administrative system rights. The remote admin could then make configuration changes and access data not just for the KiwiSDR but in many cases to the Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black, or other computing devices the SDR hardware is connected to.

A big trust problem

Signs of the backdoor in the KiwiSDR date back to at least 2017. The backdoor was recently removed with no mention of the removal under unclear circumstances. But despite the removal, users remain rattled since the devices run as root on whatever computing device they’re connected to and can often access other devices on the same network.

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US cracks down on “Fulfilled by Amazon,” citing sale of 400,000+ hazardous items

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 11:56am
Illustration of smoke, a lit match in a person's hand, and a matchbox with an Amazon logo.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) yesterday filed a complaint against Amazon over the sale of hundreds of thousands of hazardous products, including carbon monoxide detectors that fail to detect carbon monoxide, hair dryers without required protection from shock and electrocution, and flammable sleepwear meant for children. The CPSC said it sued Amazon to "force [the] recall" of the dangerous products. While Amazon has halted sales of most of them already and issued refunds, the CPSC said it isn't satisfied with how Amazon notified customers and said the industry giant must do more to ensure that the faulty products are destroyed.

The dangerous products were offered by third parties using the "Fulfilled by Amazon" (FBA) program, in which Amazon stores products in its warehouses, ships them to customers, and takes a sizable cut from the proceeds. The CPSC's administrative complaint alleges that Amazon hasn't taken enough responsibility for dangerous third-party products that it ships via FBA.

The complaint didn't mention any specific incidents of injury but said the evidence supporting the charges includes "lawsuits concerning incidents or injuries involving various consumer products identified in the Complaint." It also said that CPSC staff tested the products and found that they don't meet safety requirements. Products that don't meet these requirements pose a substantial risk of injury or death to consumers, the agency said.

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Sea walls might just make floods someone else’s problem, study suggests

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 11:39am
Night time image of the San Francisco Bay from space, showing the extensive habitation around the bay.

Enlarge / An image of the Bay Area at night shows why protecting some regions will likely lead to damaging floods elsewhere. (credit: NASA)

Protecting the coasts in the United States from the impacts of climate change comes with a hefty price tag. But new research shows that using sea walls to safeguard land can just make the rising tides a problem somewhere else.

The paper, published in PNAS, looks into the effect of erecting sea walls in one location and what that means for other places along the coast. Using the San Francisco Bay as a case study, it also assesses the economic impacts of flood scenarios in the nonprotected regions. According to the paper, defending individual parcels of the shore can increase flooding elsewhere by as much as 36 million cubic meters. This can result in $723 million in damages for a single flooding event in the most dire situations—costs can even exceed the damages that would have resulted otherwise in the protected region.

Sea change

As the sea level around the world rises, humans are inevitably going to be putting up structures to protect themselves—and, in the case of the US, that includes 350,000 structures near the coast. But this can have detrimental effects on those places we choose not to protect.

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Feds arrest CA homeopath for selling COVID pellets, fake CDC vaccine cards

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 11:24am
Extreme close-up photograph of a row of vials.

Enlarge / Vials containing pills for homeopathic remedies are displayed at Ainsworths Pharmacy on August 26, 2005, in London. (credit: Getty | Peter Macdiarmid)

Federal prosecutors have arrested a homeopathy practitioner for an alleged scheme involving sham COVID-19 immunization pellets and falsified COVID-19 vaccination record cards, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Juli Mazi, 41, of Napa, California, allegedly sold unproven and potentially dangerous vials of pellets for $243 in some cases that she fraudulently claimed could provide "lifelong immunity" to COVID-19. What the pellets actually are or contain is unclear. One person who spoke with federal investigators said they became ill after taking the pellets. In Mazi's sales pitches, she said that the pellets contain a "very minute amount of this [COVID-19] disease," while fraudulently claiming that FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines contain "toxic ingredients."

Along with the mystery pellets, Mazi allegedly provided customers with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards, which she either partly filled out or left blank. She instructed customers to write on the card that they had received a Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and then date the immunization as the time they took their pellets—or a date that would otherwise not raise suspicion. Mazi even provided customers with Moderna vaccine lot numbers, which the CDC confirmed were real lot numbers for Moderna vaccines. The lot numbers corresponded to vaccine supplies distributed in the Napa area, of which none were allocated to Mazi, who is not federally authorized to receive or administer COVID-19 vaccines.

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LG’s rollable TV costs 50 times as much as a normal OLED

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 11:09am

LG has finally revealed pricing for its 65-inch rollable OLED TV, dubbed the LG Signature OLED R: $100,000. The price was revealed briefly on LG's website.

Apart from the rolling feature, the TV offers little over other OLED TVs. The Signature OLED R doesn't even feature the best picture quality that LG's OLED lineup has to offer. The high-end, non-rollable G1 sets (which cost a little under $3,000) can achieve greater peak brightness, which is key to making a big impression with HDR content. The rollable version instead offers similar performance to 2020's high-end OLED sets. (The peak brightness upgrade was exclusive to the G series in the 2021 lineup.)

The LG C1 is arguably the most comparable set from the 2021 lineup in terms of picture quality, and the 65-inch version of that TV retails for just over $2,000. That means you'll be paying almost 50 times more for the ability to roll your TV's screen down like a car window.

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Facebook Pay extends its reach later this summer

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 10:57am
Facebook Pay is one of many payment services aiming to eliminate the "phone, laptop, credit card" shuffle by offering easily accessed one-tap payment options.

Enlarge / Facebook Pay is one of many payment services aiming to eliminate the "phone, laptop, credit card" shuffle by offering easily accessed one-tap payment options. (credit: Fiordaliso via Getty Images)

This August, Facebook will be making its Facebook Pay payment service available outside its own platforms for the first time. Facebook's announcement describes the move as providing a mobile-friendly seamless checkout experience for businesses that elect to use it, pointing out that Facebook users already use the service to send money and buy items in Facebook Shops and the Facebook Marketplace.

There isn't much meat in Facebook's announcement, which mostly rehashes feel-good bullet points that apply to the entire online financial industry, not just Facebook Pay—for example, the system's use of encrypted storage and the fact that businesses accepting Facebook Pay don't need to manage customers' card or bank account numbers. While these features sound good at first blush, they're both de rigueur, not innovations—the majority of online stores already use third-party payment processors that manage credit card and bank account numbers for them.

Facebook pledges that Pay users' credit card and bank account information won't be used to "personalize their experience" or target advertisements. The company also says that payments and purchases will not be shared with a user's friends or to a user's profile or feed. It's worth noting that these are explicitly separate promises, though—Facebook isn't promising that payments and purchases won't be used for "personalization" or ad targeting.

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Nintendo’s OLED Switch is now available to preorder—here’s where to get one

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 10:30am
Promotional images for upgraded handheld video game system.

Enlarge / The new Nintendo Switch (OLED model). (credit: Nintendo)

After an initial unveiling last week, Nintendo’s Switch OLED model is now available to preorder through various retailers in the US. In a tweet earlier on Thursday, the company confirmed that orders for the new console variant would begin at 12pm PT/3pm ET.

If you're hoping to grab one, here are the retail listings that are up as of this writing. Feel free to use this page as a resource over the coming months if you aren't able to secure an order right away. We’ll add more listings as we see them, but given the intense demand for recent gaming hardware like the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Nvidia's RTX graphics cards (from scalpers or otherwise), we don't expect stock to be available for long stretches:

The new OLED Switch costs $350 and will ship from October 8. That’s compared to $300 for the base Switch model and $200 for the handheld-only Nintendo Switch Lite.

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Steam Deck is Valve’s Switch-like portable PC, starting at $399 this December

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 10:08am

On Thursday, Valve took the wraps off its new Switch-like portable PC, now dubbed the Steam Deck, confirming that it is indeed the hardware Ars Technica wrote about earlier this year. The device will begin shipping later this year at a starting price of $399.

The hefty-looking console, which is 11.7 inches long (compared to 9.4 inches for the default Switch with Joy-Cons), will launch at three price points, differentiated by built-in storage capacity, higher SSD speed ratings (jumping from default eMMC storage to a pricier NVMe protocol), and differently tempered glass on its screen. Those upgraded versions will cost $529 (256GB) and $649 (512GB, "anti-glare etched glass"). Both pricier bundles include a carrying case.

All models will have the same AMD-powered combination of a four-core Zen 2 CPU and a RDNA 2 GPU, which Valve describes as a "custom" APU. Each model also includes 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, a 40 Whr battery (guaranteeing "2-8 hours of gameplay" on a single charge), a microSD card slot for expandable storage, and a 7-inch, 1280x800, 60 Hz touchscreen LCD.

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TSMC signals global chip crunch may be easing

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 9:50am
TSMC's headquarters, seen here, are in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

Enlarge / TSMC's headquarters, seen here, are in Hsinchu, Taiwan. (credit: Sam Yeh via Getty Images)

Carmakers can expect a sharp upturn in chip supplies in the coming weeks, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) said, signaling that a global shortage may have moved past its most crippling stage.

In the first six months of 2021, TSMC increased its output of micro-controlling units, an important component used for car electronics, by 30 per cent compared with the same period last year, the world’s largest contract chipmaker told investors on an earnings call on Thursday. MCU production is expected to be 60 percent higher for the full year than in 2020, it added.

“By taking such actions, we expect the shortage to be greatly reduced for TSMC customers starting this quarter,” said CC Wei, TSMC’s chief executive.

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Facebook advertisers are panicking after iOS cuts off key tracking data

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 9:39am
Facebook advertisers are panicking after iOS cuts off key tracking data

Enlarge

Facebook’s ability to track users and show them certain ads appears to be tanking thanks to Apple’s “ask not to track” feature, according to some advertisers.

Apple rolled out the privacy prompt in late April with iOS 14.5. Since then, nearly half of all iOS devices worldwide have at least version 14.5 installed, according to Statcounter, and a vast majority of these devices' users have chosen to deny Facebook and other apps the ability to track them. Nearly three months after the feature's launch, just 17 percent of users worldwide have opted in, according to analytics company Flurry.

The changes could have a significant effect on Facebook’s bottom line. Eric Seufert, an analyst who writes Mobile Dev Memo, forecasts that if only 20 percent of users consent to tracking, Facebook’s revenue could drop 7 percent in the first full quarter that the opt-in prompt is active (the forthcoming third quarter). The company warned back in February that the iOS changes would curtail its ability to track users across the Internet.

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OnePlus cancels the base-model OnePlus 9 Pro, will only sell a $1,069 version

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 9:20am

The global chip shortage is claiming another victim.

Android Police reports that OnePlus is canceling the base model of the OnePlus 9 Pro for the US. During the phone's March 2021 announcement, OnePlus said the device would start at $969 for a version with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but that model is not coming out. Instead, the phone is effectively getting a price increase in the US, as only the $1,069 version with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage will be sold in the US.

OnePlus started selling the $1,069 SKU on time in April, but the $969 version was never for sale in the US and never went up for preorder. OnePlus gave Android Police the following statement:

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Nintendo’s “OLED model” Switch estimated to cost just $10 more to produce

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 8:58am

The recently announced "OLED model" of the Nintendo Switch will retail for $50 more than the $300 standard model when the upgrade goes on sale on October 1. But the new model is estimated to cost Nintendo only about $10 more to produce, increasing the company's profit margins on the high end of its still-hot gaming hardware.

That cost estimate comes from Bloomberg News' Takashi Mochizuki, who breaks down the estimated production cost increase like this:

  • 7-inch Samsung OLED screen: $3 to $5 more per unit (according to Yoshio Tamura, co-founder of industry research firm DSCC)
  • 32GB of additional internal storage: $3.50 per unit (according to Omdia’s Akira Minamikawa)
  • New dock w/ LAN port and other improvements: "a few dollars more" per unit
Loss leaders and profit centers

Historically, many console-makers have sold their hardware at cost or at a loss in order to attract a bigger audience of potential customers for software (and the console-maker licensing fees that come with it). But while Nintendo initially sold the Wii U at a loss, it has made a profit on every Switch hardware sale since its launch, with estimates at the time suggesting that the $300 system cost about $260 to produce (per unit) in 2017.

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Feeding the machine: We give an AI some headlines and see what it does

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/15/2021 - 8:00am
Turning the lens on ourselves, as it were.

Enlarge / Turning the lens on ourselves, as it were.

There's a moment in any foray into new technological territory when you realize you may have embarked on a Sisyphean task. Staring at the multitude of options available to take on the project, you research your options, read the documentation, and start to work—only to find that actually just defining the problem may be more work than finding the actual solution.

Reader, this is where I found myself two weeks into this adventure in machine learning. I familiarized myself with the data, the tools, and the known approaches to problems with this kind of data, and I tried several approaches to solving what on the surface seemed to be a simple machine-learning problem: based on past performance, could we predict whether any given Ars headline will be a winner in an A/B test?

Things have not been going particularly well. In fact, as I finished this piece, my most recent attempt showed that our algorithm was about as accurate as a coin flip.

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