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.

Maybe not so fast with the phage therapy?

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/12/2021 - 1:06pm
Image of lots of small objects on a surface.

Enlarge

Every living thing on the planet plays host to viruses, and bacteria are no exception. Bacteriophages—or just “phages” to those in the know—are the viruses that attack bacteria. And we are in dire need of things that attack bacteria, since many pathogenic bacterial species have developed resistance to the antibiotics we’ve thrown at them for decades.

Phage therapy is attractive not only because antibiotic use yields antibiotic resistance but also because the treatment can be targeted specifically to the bacteria causing an infection. Most antibiotics in use are rather broad-spectrum, so they obliterate many of the bacteria they encounter, including the ones that are happily residing in our guts, minding their own business and not causing anyone any problems. Phages can be more precise.

But is phage therapy effective? A new study suggests it may end up being undercut by our own immune systems, which treat the therapies like a hostile invader.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

FCC speed standard that Ajit Pai never updated is too slow, GAO report says

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/12/2021 - 12:41pm
A wireless router on a desk in an office where a man is typing.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Kittichai Boonpong | EyeEm)

The Federal Communications Commission broadband standard that was implemented under then-Chairman Tom Wheeler in 2015 and never updated by Ajit Pai is now "likely too slow," according to a government report issued last week.

The Wheeler-led FCC in January 2015 updated the agency's broadband standard from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream to 25Mbps downloads/3Mbps uploads. The increase was opposed by broadband-industry lobbyists and Republicans, including Ajit Pai, who was then a commissioner and later served as FCC chairman throughout the Trump administration.

Pai never updated the 25Mbps/3Mbps standard in his four years as chair. In his last annual broadband-deployment report issued in January 2021, Pai concluded that "fixed services with speeds of 25/3Mbps continue to meet the statutory definition of advanced telecommunications capability."

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Microsoft discovers critical SolarWinds zero-day under active attack

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/12/2021 - 12:25pm
A phone and the wall behind it share a solarwinds logo.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

SolarWinds, the company at the center of a supply chain attack that compromised nine US agencies and 100 private companies, is scrambling to contain a new security threat: a critical zero-day vulnerability in its Serv-U product line.

Microsoft discovered the exploits and privately reported them to SolarWinds, the latter company said in an advisory published on Friday. SolarWinds said the attacks are entirely unrelated to the supply chain attack discovered in December.

“Microsoft has provided evidence of limited, targeted customer impact, though SolarWinds does not currently have an estimate of how many customers may be directly affected by the vulnerability,” company officials wrote. “SolarWinds is unaware of the identity of the potentially affected customers.”

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Bone-conduction headphones: Long-term test and review of AfterShokz

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/12/2021 - 12:16pm
Beneath the AfterShokz Air headset itself are an accessory bag, printed user manual, and a pair of included (but strictly optional) foam earplugs.

Enlarge / Beneath the AfterShokz Air headset itself are an accessory bag, printed user manual, and a pair of included (but strictly optional) foam earplugs. (credit: Jim Salter)

In March 2021, we tested Lucyd Lyte Bluetooth sunglasses, a pair of shades with built-in off-ear headphones. Lucyd Lyte didn't quite impress—mostly because their tiny built-in speakers are nearly as audible to everyone around you as they are to you. Today, we'll take a look at two models of bone-conduction headphones suggested to us in that review's comment section—the AfterShokz Titanium and AfterShokz Air.

I purchased one each of the Titanium and Air in early March and have used them regularly in the months since. Bone-conduction headphones are definitely not for everyone—but they're fantastic for people who need the particular mix of comfort, awareness of surroundings, and improved hygiene they offer.

Open, comfortable ears

Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Android 12 will default to a play-as-you-download scheme for newer games

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/12/2021 - 10:23am
Android 12 will default to a play-as-you-download scheme for newer games

Enlarge (credit: Google)

Google is announcing a new trick for Android 12 and the Google Play Store: a play-as-you-download feature for games. If you're downloading a large game, you'll soon be able to start playing before the entire download finishes, letting you jump into gameplay as quickly as possible.

Play-as-you-download is a feature of several major online game stores. The idea is that you don't need to download the entire game to start playing it, just the data for the game engine, the UI, the first level, and the initial startup sequence. The largest files in any game are the assets for graphics, sounds, and pre-rendered videos, and if you can split those up by "needed immediately" and "needed later" (like, say, by level), you can save a lot of time in the initial download.

Google's example GIF shows one 127MB game becoming playable after a user downloads just 20 percent of the game, and the company says, "We are seeing games being ready to open at least 2 times faster." The feature is exclusive to Android 12 because it relies on a new "Incremental FS" file system in the forthcoming update. Google describes Incremental FS as a "special-purpose Linux virtual file system that allows execution of a program while its binary and resource files are still being lazily downloaded over the network, USB, etc."

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

$11 billion in 9 days—Texas’ natural gas sellers cashed in on deep freeze

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/12/2021 - 9:49am
A warning sign for an underground natural gas pipeline stands near Sunray, Texas.

Enlarge / A warning sign for an underground natural gas pipeline stands near Sunray, Texas. (credit: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

While Texans froze and natural gas-fired power plants tripped offline during a February cold snap, natural gas traders and pipeline companies made up to $11 billion in just nine days. The handsome profits came thanks in part to a system that left utilities and customers dependent on the state’s lightly regulated natural gas market, which some are comparing to a black box.

Texas’ grid collapsed in the early morning hours of February 15. The incident was caused largely by coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants that failed due to equipment that was not prepared for the frigid temperatures. Equipment problems at gas power plants were compounded by a lack of supplies. In the days leading up to the blackouts, the chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas spoke with the governor's office 32 times about natural gas curtailments caused by a shortage of supplies. 

Early gas shortages may have been more severe than previously known, according to a new report by BloombergNEF. In the six days before the outages began, daily Texas gas production dropped by nearly 6 billion cubic feet, almost a quarter of the state’s total. That was due in part to producers shutting down wells in advance of the cold weather. Producers' equipment may not have been winterized, either, and fracking requires massive amounts of water, which can freeze pipes and wells. After the blackouts began, gas production dropped another 5 billion cubic feet over the next several days as wells still operating lost power. By the end of the blackouts, almost half of the state’s natural gas production was offline.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Here’s why Richard Branson’s flight matters—and, yes, it really matters

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/12/2021 - 7:50am
Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson, with Sirisha Bandla on his shoulders, cheers with crew members after flying into space aboard VSS <em>Unity</em>.

Enlarge / Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson, with Sirisha Bandla on his shoulders, cheers with crew members after flying into space aboard VSS Unity. (credit: PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M.—Sir Richard Branson basked in the late morning New Mexico sunshine on Sunday. Beaming his white, toothy grin for all to see, the 70-year-old adventurer looked resplendent in his blue flight suit as he stood alongside the pilots, Dave Mackay and co-pilot Mike Masucci, who had just rocketed him above 85 km.

“I have wanted to do this since I was a child,” Branson said. “But honestly, nothing could prepare you for the view of Earth from space.”

If you think Richard Branson’s space flight on Sunday morning was all about the pomp and simply served to feed the ego of a celebrity billionaire, you would not be wrong. Virgin Galactic hired Stephen Colbert to host the livestream, after all. R&B musician Khalid performed onstage following the mission. It was gaudy. It was showtime. It was absolutely a party.

Read 45 remaining paragraphs | Comments

World record for most expensive video game auction is now $1.56 million [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/12/2021 - 6:37am
A golden, 8-bit Zelda cartridge sits atop a mess of gold coins.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Update, July 11: Two days after our original report went live, Heritage Auctions' latest slate of game-related auctions concluded with a staggering highlight: a boxed, sealed copy of Super Mario 64 selling for a new world-record auction bid of $1.56 million. This copy of the N64 classic doesn't include any indication about being a special or rare print of the game; rather, it comes with an uncommon Wata Games rating of 9.8 out of 10, making it as pristine a box of the 25-year-old game as you might ever find in the wild.

Original report:

The world record for most expensive video game sold at auction has now been surpassed by a staggering amount, thanks to a sealed, "9.0"-rated copy of 1987's The Legend of Zelda.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Archaeologists “flabbergasted” to find Cerne Giant’s origins are medieval

ArsTechnica - Mon, 07/12/2021 - 4:51am
Behold, the "Rude Man" chalk giant carved on a hill above the village of Cerne Abbas in Dorset, England.

Enlarge / Behold, the "Rude Man" chalk giant carved on a hill above the village of Cerne Abbas in Dorset, England. (credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Images/Getty Images)

The Cerne Abbas Giant is a 180-foot-tall figure of a naked man wielding a large club, carved with chalk into a hilltop in Dorset, England. The figure's generously sized erect phallus has earned it the nickname "Rude Man" and no doubt contributes to its popularity as a tourist attraction. Archaeologists have long speculated over exactly when, and why, the geoglyph was first created. Now, thanks to a new analysis of sediment samples, researchers have narrowed down the likely date for the Rude Man's creation to the late Saxon period—a surprising result, since no other similar chalk figures in the region are known to date from that time period.

"This is not what was expected," said geoarchaeologist Mike Allen, who has been working with the National Trust on the ongoing project to learn more about the Cerne Abbas Giant. "Many archaeologists and historians thought he was prehistoric or post-medieval, but not medieval. Everyone was wrong, and that makes these results even more exciting." National Trust senior archaeologist Martin Papworth told the Guardian he was "flabbergasted" by the results, saying, "I was expecting 17th century.”

In the 1990s, archaeologists relied on soil samples to date another well-known geoglyph—the 360-foot-long Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire—to between 1380 and 550 BCE. And the Long Man of Wilmington in East Sussex dates back to the 16th century.  "Archaeologists have wanted to pigeonhole chalk hill figures into the same period," said Allen. "But carving these figures was not a particular phase—they’re all individual figures, with local significance, each telling us something about that place and time."

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How much shipping can we get through a warming Arctic?

ArsTechnica - Sun, 07/11/2021 - 6:30am
Image of a boat and dock surrounded by ice.

Enlarge / As the world continues to warm, scenes like this will occur for a smaller fraction of the year. (credit: Alexander Ryumin / Getty Images)

Traveling by boat through Canada's Arctic waters is no easy feat. Beyond the ice and the cold, the region is one of the most complex geographies on Earth, containing some 36,000 islands of varying size. But the nature of the Arctic is shifting thanks to climate change, and according to new research, the nautical pathways through the region are likely to become easier to traverse as the world warms and its ice becomes less common.

The new paper projects how navigable the Canadian Arctic will be in a progressively warmer world. The research began in 2017 and was performed in an effort to model climate change in a way that was digestible and useful for policymakers and people living in Arctic communities. "We need to think about indicators at a local scale, or a decision-making scale," said Jackie Dawson, one of the paper's authors and a professor in the University of Ottawa's department of geography, environment, and geomatics.

While the paper also looks into the policy and social implications of different warming scenarios, we would be better off if we kept the climate from warming. The likelihood of reaching some of the paper's more dire scenarios "[depends] on what actions we take in the future, is what it boils down to," Lawrence Mudryk—a research scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada and one of the paper's authors—told Ars.

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Creepypasta and the search for the ghost in the machine

ArsTechnica - Sun, 07/11/2021 - 6:00am

Lavender Town is quite eerie, in fairness.

It was the music, they said, that drove the children to madness. The eerie, detuned soundtrack to Pokémon Red’s Lavender Town contained harmful sonic irregularities played at such high frequencies that only the youngest players could hear them. In extreme cases, these could alter brain chemistry and trigger psychosis—after playing the game, hundreds of Japanese children put down their Game Boys, climbed on to the roof, and jumped to their deaths.

None of this is true, of course. Lavender Town Syndrome is just a legend, a ghost story for the gaming generation. No cases of child suicide were ever conclusively linked to the game’s music—the closest case was a 1997 episode of the Pokémon TV show featuring strobing lights that triggered epileptic seizures.

Stories of haunted video games have circulated for decades. They were more believable before the Internet, when you could still come across a game nobody else knew. Back then, game development was the domain of hobbyists and lone programmers who could create curious experiments and distribute them at computer fairs or yard sales. It wasn’t outlandish, either, to suspect games had secrets: even on a program as unassuming as Excel 95 a particular combination of commands opens the “Hall of Tortured Souls,” a lurid, game-like hellscape within the spreadsheet that displays the names and photos of the Microsoft developers.

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The weekend’s best tech deals: Nintendo Switch Lite, MacBook Air, and more

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/10/2021 - 8:12am
A collage of electronic and other consumer goods against a white background.

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Update 7/11 11:05 am EDT: We've updated our roundup to reflect pricing and stock changes for Sunday.

Original post: For this weekend edition of our Dealmaster deals roundup, we have a nifty bundle for Nintendo's Switch Lite and several deals on high-profile Switch games, joint-lowest prices on Apple's M1-equipped MacBook Air and Mac Mini, and good prices on a few wireless headphones and portable SSDs. You can check out our full curated rundown below.

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

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When science breaks bad: A rogues’ gallery of history’s worst scientists

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/10/2021 - 6:30am
Ghoulish book cover for The Icepick Surgeon.

Enlarge / You're not supposed to have words inside you. (credit: Little, Brown and Company)

Walter Freeman was ambidextrous, so he could do two lobotomies at the same time. These involved jabbing two icepicks from the junk drawer in his kitchen into the eye sockets of two different patients until he felt the thin orbital bones behind their eyes crack. Swishing the picks back and forth was then all it took to sever each patient’s frontal lobe from her limbic system, unhooking her executive function and judgement from her emotions and appetites. Yes, it was usually a her.

Although he got the dubious honor of having this nifty book named for him, Dr. Freeman is not even the worst among the gallery of rogues profiled by Sam Kean in his new book The Icepick Surgeon: Murder, Fraud, Sabotage, Piracy, and Other Dastardly Deeds Perpetrated in the Name of Science. Freeman wasn’t a Nazi, and he wasn’t a slaver. It’s hard to beat those populations for bad guys.

Breaking bad

Sam Kean has a thing for scientific malfeasance. His previous books have touched on it, but this one is entirely dedicated to mad scientists—monomaniacs who kept their eye on the prize to the exclusion of all else, like pain, suffering, and morals. Occasionally, the prize was data; more often it was fame and fortune. But regardless of their motives, these guys (yes, it was usually a him) brushed aside any ethical qualms they may have had if those qualms interfered with their research program or whatever hypothesis they were chasing down. This book addresses why and how they did so.

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Quest for “green” cement draws big name investors to $300B industry

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/10/2021 - 4:30am
Black-and-white photograph of cement mixer at work.

Enlarge / The hope is future concrete can be a lot more environmentally friendly than concrete put down in 1972. (credit: Denver Post via Getty Images)

For Bryan Kalbfleisch, cement is a way of life. “I was born and raised in the ready-mix concrete business,” says the New Jersey-based chief executive, explaining his father worked in the sector for 40 years. “I was the kind of kid who could operate heavy machinery, before I could drive.”

Now he is doing something that he never imagined—developing a new type of concrete that can store carbon dioxide to help combat climate change.

The Solidia Technologies startup that he runs is part of a growing number trying to solve one of the toughest problems in heavy industry: how to make concrete without producing a lot of greenhouse gas emissions.

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Feds indict “The Bull” for allegedly selling insider stock info on the dark web

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 3:30pm
Feds indict “The Bull” for allegedly selling insider stock info on the dark web

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Federal prosecutors and attorneys on Friday charged a man with securities fraud for allegedly selling insider stock information on the dark web site AlphaBay. The defendant also sold information through multiple criminal marketplaces and through an encrypted messaging platform.

In an indictment filed in federal court in the Southern District of New York, Department of Justice prosecutors alleged that Apostolos Trovias, 30, of Athens, Greece, created an account on AlphaBay in 2016 and used it to advertise and sell stock tips until the dark web criminal marketplace was shut down the following year. Prosecutors said that using the pseudonym “The Bull,” Trovias sold the tips both individually and as weekly or monthly subscriptions, using Bitcoin to receive payments.

Behind the dark web veil

“Behind the veil of the Dark Web, using encrypted messaging applications and emails, Trovias created a business model in which he sold—for profit—proprietary information from other companies, stock trading tips, pre-release earnings, and other inside information, as we allege,” FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said in Friday’s news release. “The FBI operates within the Dark Web too, and as Trovias learned today, we don't stop enforcing the law just because you commit federal crimes from behind a router with your keyboard.”

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Cheat-maker brags of computer-vision auto-aim that works on “any game”

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 3:00pm

When it comes to the cat-and-mouse game of stopping cheaters in online games, anti-cheat efforts often rely in part on technology that ensures the wider system running the game itself isn't compromised. On the PC, that can mean so-called "kernel-level drivers" which monitor system memory for modifications that could affect the game's intended operation. On consoles, that can mean relying on system-level security that prevents unsigned code from being run at all (until and unless the system is effectively hacked, that is).

But there's a growing category of cheating methods that can now effectively get around these forms of detection in many first-person shooters. By using external tools like capture cards and "emulated input" devices, along with machine learning-powered computer vision software running on a separate computer, these cheating engines totally circumvent the secure environments set up by PC and console game makers. This is forcing the developers behind these games to look to alternate methods to detect and stop these cheaters in their tracks.

How it works

The basic toolchain used for these external emulated-input cheating methods is relatively simple. The first step is using an external video capture card to record a game's live output and instantly send it to a separate computer. Those display frames are then run through a computer vision-based object detection algorithm like You Only Look Once (YOLO) that has been trained to find human-shaped enemies in the image (or at least in a small central portion of the image near the targeting reticle).

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Rupert Murdoch’s answer to Google News is dead after only 18 months

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 2:35pm
The now-defunct news aggregator was an excellent source of boldface, italics, underline, and wildly mismatched typefaces.

Enlarge / The now-defunct news aggregator was an excellent source of boldface, italics, underline, and wildly mismatched typefaces. (credit: Jim Salter)

In August of 2019, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp announced that it was developing Knewz, its own "conservative friendly" alternative to Google News. Knewz went live without much fanfare in January of 2020, and officially died today, less than eighteen months later.

What was Knewz?

Knewz described itself as "an innovative service designed to let you consume news from a wide variety of sources, free of the bias bubbles and vacuous verticals that frustrate so many discerning readers and thoughtful publishers." The service was operated by News Corp, the Murdoch-owned company behind Fox News, the New York Post, the Sun, and the Wall Street Journal.

In practice, Knewz was a news aggregator, somewhat similar to Google News. It used AI algorithms to scrape content from hundreds of news sources, with human editors to "highlight a selection of headlines that provide a broad perspective." The site's design was particularly garish, with construction-project-yellow headers, an inconsistently sized tile layout, and frequent use of boldface, underlining, and italics in the same headline.

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NYC ePrix: It’s time for Formula E’s annual visit to America

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 2:15pm

Formula E, the electric car racing series, is back in Brooklyn this coming weekend. It's the series' first time back in North America since 2019, having skipped last year for obvious reasons. COVID-19 caused most of season six to take place on the concrete of Templehof in Berlin, but season seven saw some return to normality when it began back in February, now with the FIA (which is in charge of global motorsport) blessing it as an official world championship. Ahead of the New York ePrix double-header, Ars checked in with some of the teams and drivers to see how one of our favorite racing series has continued to evolve.

Although Saturday's race will be the 10th round of season seven, the pandemic has continued to make its presence felt this year. Covid cancelled planned races in Santiago, Chile, and Marrakech, Morocco, and kept spectators from attending rounds in Rome and Valencia, Spain. Their absence was noted, even if it has freed up the drivers' time between on-track sessions.

"We're there to entertain people, and not having people there to enjoy what we do has been quite disappointing," said Jaguar Racing's Sam Bird. "It's nice to see fans getting excited, asking for autographs, people having smiles on their faces when they see their favorite drivers or their favorite cars, so yeah it's been tough to not have fans there, and I can't wait to have them back."

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The FBI’s honeypot Pixel 4a gets detailed in new report

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 1:53pm

Last month, authorities disclosed that the FBI and Australian Federal Police secretly operated an "encrypted device company" called "Anom." The company sold 12,000 smartphones to criminal syndicates around the world. These were pitched as secure devices but were actually honeypot devices that routed all messages to an FBI-owned server. The disclosure was light on details, but now that it's public, Anom phones are being unloaded on the secondary market. That means us normal people are finally getting a look at them, starting with this Vice article detailing one of the devices.

The FBI has basically weaponized what the Android modding community has been doing for years. Some Android phones have unlockable bootloaders, which let you wipe out the original operating system and replace it with your own build of an OS, called a custom ROM. The Anom device Vice got was a Google Pixel 4a, one of the most developer-friendly devices out there. The FBI's custom ROM shows an "ArcaneOS" boot screen, and it replaced the normal Google Android distribution with the FBI's skin of Android 10.

The FBI's sales pitch to alleged criminals was that these were security-focused devices (so please use them to document your illegal activities!), and that involved a lot of fun security theater. A "pin scrambling" feature would swap around the order of the lock screen numbers so that no one could guess your code from screen smudges.

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How to watch Branson’s flight, which Jeff Bezos is still hopping mad about

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 12:04pm
A sharp-dressed couple stands in front of a reflecting pool.

Enlarge / Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez pose for a picture during their visit at the Taj Mahal in January 2020. (credit: PAWAN SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images)

Virgin Galactic is continuing to make final preparations for the historic flight of its VSS Unity vehicle on Sunday morning, carrying the company's founder, Richard Branson, and three other employees. To that end, on Friday, the company announced that it will have a livestream, hosted by Stephen Colbert and featuring a new song by Khalid, to publicize the flight into space.

But wait, is it really space? Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says Virgin Galactic's flights above 80 km are not space.

In a pair of salty tweets on Friday, Bezos' space company, Blue Origin, took potshots at Virgin Galactic and its rocket-powered space plane. "From the beginning, New Shepard was designed to fly above the Kármán line so none of our astronauts have an asterisk next to their name," the company tweeted. "For 96% of the world’s population, space begins 100 km up at the internationally recognized Kármán line."

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