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.

With little remaining of Champlain Towers, how will we find answers?

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 11:34am
Image of a collapsed building.

Enlarge (credit: EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI / Getty Images)

Shortly after the collapse of Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida, the hunt for answers began. In a rare move, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced that it would be taking the lead in what promises to be a long process investigating the event that took, at current count, 64 lives. The involvement of the NIST—which also led the investigation in the wake of 9/11—could signal coming changes in the United States' building codes.

The collapse wasn't a product of an earthquake or other natural disaster. While many ideas have been floated to explain the event, it could be a long time before we get any solid answers. Understanding it isn't made easier by the fact that the vast majority of the remains of the structure is just rubble at this point. Yet investigators have ways of determining the factors that led to this massive, tragic disaster—even though the clues have been reduced to tiny pieces.

The NIST declined to speak on the matter at this point, so Ars reached out to researchers in the field to get a sense of how these kinds of investigations are done.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Biden urges FCC to undo Pai’s legacy—but it can’t until he picks a third Democrat

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 10:01am
Then-FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel sit at a table while testifying at a Senate hearing.

Enlarge / Then-Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai testifies at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on June 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who is now the FCC's acting chairwoman, looks on. (credit: Getty Images | Alex Wong)

President Biden today urged the Federal Communications Commission to restore net neutrality rules and take steps to boost price transparency and competition in broadband—but the FCC can't do most or all of that yet because Biden still hasn't nominated a fifth commissioner to break the 2-2 deadlock between Democrats and Republicans.

Consumer advocacy groups have been urging Biden to nominate a third Democrat to the deadlocked FCC for months, but he still hasn't done so. What's causing the holdup isn't clear. The delay could wipe out the FCC's ability to do anything opposed by Republicans for all of 2021, because it can take the Senate months to approve FCC nominations, and the FCC process for complicated rulemakings is also lengthy.

Biden today released a fact sheet describing an executive order focused on boosting competition in numerous industries. The order targets four broadband problems that Biden's order "encourages" the FCC to solve: deals between ISPs and landlords that limit tenants' choices; misleading advertised prices; high termination fees; and net neutrality. (We published a separate article today on how other parts of the executive order affect the tech industry.)

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Amid criticism, FDA narrows use of $56K Alzheimer’s drug, calls for probe [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 9:42am
Words and symbols adorn a large outdoor sign.

Enlarge / The Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Maryland. (credit: Getty | Congressional Quarterly)

Update 7/9/2021, 2:35 pm ET: The Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to the Office of the Inspector General Friday calling for an independent review of the agency's controversial approval of the Alzheimer's drug Aduhelm.

"I believe that it is critical that the events at issue be reviewed by an independent body such as the Office of the Inspector General in order to determine whether any interactions that occurred between Biogen and FDA review staff were inconsistent with FDA policies and procedures," Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock wrote in the letter, which was addressed to acting Inspector General Christi Grimm.

In explaining the call for the investigation, Woodcock cited the "significant attention" and concerns raised by the agency's decision to approve the drug. It is "inevitable" that some FDA decisions lead to controversy, she wrote, and "I have tremendous confidence in the integrity of the staff and leadership" involved in the decision. But, a review is necessary, she added, because the mounting concerns could "undermine the public's confidence in the FDA's decision."

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

“Bad mergers” and noncompete clauses targeted in Biden executive order

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 9:22am
President Joe Biden speaking into a microphone and gesturing with his hands.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

President Joe Biden announced his anticipated executive order today, and it’s a sweeping document that seeks to counter rising corporate consolidation and foster greater competition in everything from labor markets to mergers, banking, healthcare, device repairs, transportation, broadband, and more.

“For decades, corporate consolidation has been accelerating,” the White House said in a statement. “In over 75 percent of US industries, a smaller number of large companies now control more of the business than they did twenty years ago. This is true across healthcare, financial services, agriculture and more.” (We published a separate article today that dives into the broadband portions of the executive order.)

With the order, Biden appears to be positioning himself as an antitrust champion, name-checking famed trust-buster Teddy Roosevelt. That’s no surprise—his appointment of Lina Khan as chair of the Federal Trade Commission telegraphed that he would be taking an aggressive approach to consolidation and anticompetitive practices.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google’s Nest Hub is the best bedside smart display—and sleep tracking helps

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 4:30am
Google's second-generation Nest Hub in its ideal environment, bedside.

Enlarge / Google's second-generation Nest Hub in its ideal environment, bedside. (credit: Corey Gaskin)

Google’s second-generation Nest Hub, like much of the company’s hardware these days, looks a lot like the previous version. But in this case, I don’t mind so much.

This is a purpose-built smart display with a camera-less design aimed at maintaining privacy and bedside utility. That second use case gets one of the biggest additions on the second-gen model: a new sleep tracking function. As for privacy, the Nest Hub doesn't add much new, though the sleep tracking feature introduces some new precautions. The most notable change, however, is a lower price—down from $130 to $99.99 (and sometimes on sale for less). Combined with this unique (for a smart display) ability to track sleep accurately, the value here easily makes the new Nest Hub a top pick for smart displays.

Sleep, soundly

Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Rocket Report: SLS not available for science, OneWeb reaches milestone

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 4:00am
Space shuttle <em>Atlantis</em> launched on Friday, July 8, 2011, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. This was the final launch of the space shuttle program.

Enlarge / Space shuttle Atlantis launched on Friday, July 8, 2011, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. This was the final launch of the space shuttle program. (credit: NASA)

Welcome to Edition 4.06 of the Rocket Report! After years and years of promises, the era of suborbital space tourism is really and truly upon us. What a weekend we have coming up in launch: Richard Branson is set to make his long-awaited spaceflight aboard the rocket-powered VSS Unity on Sunday morning. I'll be onsite, in New Mexico, to take in the scene and report back.

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.

Astra unveils plans for growth as it goes public. One week has passed since Astra became a publicly traded stock as part of a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. (The company's stock, ASTR, is up about 10 percent during that time). In an interview with Ars, Astra CEO Chris Kemp said the company is using the funds raised from this transaction—about a half-billion dollars—to continue operations, accelerate growth toward a larger launch vehicle, and to become a space services company. The company's next launch of its Rocket 3 series is on track for later this summer, and there are plans for two more launches this year. The company hopes to reach a monthly cadence by the end of 2021, Kemp said, and it is targeting a total of 15 launches next year.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Black Widow review: Johansson’s sendoff is MCU’s best standalone film yet

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/09/2021 - 3:45am

This week's Black Widow may have put a new hit Marvel franchise in motion.

It is intimate, aggressive, funny, and brutal in every PG-13 sense possible. It's an Eastern European Marvel superhero tale that gives hearts to heartless characters without falling into the typical Marvel trap of ending with a neatly tied bow. And the entire cast nails this balancing act.

Perhaps best of all, star Scarlett Johansson (playing the titular character) finally gets to deliver on her Marvel hero status instead of serving as a crutch for a randomly selected male Avenger. She doesn't waste this opportunity, yet she still proves generous as a co-star, so much so that she helps launch Florence Pugh (Midsommar, Little Women) as the Marvel universe's most compelling new hero in years.

Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Windows 11 insider build is surprisingly unpolished and unfinished

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/08/2021 - 4:40pm
Setting Windows 11 to one of its dark themes also darkens the background of the Settings app—but not the background of most traditional apps, like Resource Monitor.

Enlarge / Setting Windows 11 to one of its dark themes also darkens the background of the Settings app—but not the background of most traditional apps, like Resource Monitor. (credit: Jim Salter)

Microsoft made early Windows 11 builds available via its Windows Insider program the week after its first major announcement, and we've spent quite a few hours kicking the tires. When Windows 11 publicly releases, it's likely to be a fine operating system—but right now, it's an unpolished, unfinished mess.

Of course, this isn't a complete surprise—Windows 11 is still only available in the Dev channel of the Insider program. The three Insider channels are Release Preview, Beta, and Dev; Dev roughly corresponds to a software alpha, and Microsoft itself describes it as "the newest code," with "rough edges and some instability."

Windows 11 is upgrade only (for now)

The first disappointment we encountered with Windows 11 is a puzzling one—it can't (yet) be cleanly installed as a new operating system. To install Windows 11 Build 22000.51, you must begin with a fully patched and up-to-date Windows 10 installation, then flight it into the Dev channel, then upgrade it to Windows 11 via Windows Update. (If you're not already on Windows 10 20H2 or newer, you'll need to get through that upgrade first.)

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Morgan Stanley discloses data breach that resulted from Accellion FTA hacks

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/08/2021 - 4:16pm
A cartoon man runs across a white field of ones and zeroes.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Morgan Stanley suffered a data breach that exposed sensitive customer data, and it became the latest known casualty of hackers exploiting a series of now-patched vulnerabilities in Accellion FTA, a widely used third-party file-transfer service.

The data obtained included names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and affiliated corporate company names, Morgan Stanley said in a letter first reported by Bleeping Computer. A third-party service called Guidehouse, which provides account maintenance services to the financial services company, was in possession of the data at the time. Unknown hackers obtained the data by exploiting a series of hacks that came to light in December and January.

What took so long?

Morgan Stanley stated:

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All fans banned from Tokyo Olympics as COVID cases rise, delta spreads

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/08/2021 - 3:38pm
Exterior of a sports arena at dawn or dusk.

Enlarge / Branding is displayed on a fence surrounding the Olympic Stadium on July 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has announced a fourth state of emergency for Tokyo which will run throughout the Olympic Games and remain in place until August 22. (credit: Getty | Carl Court)

Both foreign and local sports fans are now barred from attending Tokyo-area Olympic events as COVID-19 cases tick up in the city and the highly transmissible delta variant continues to spread.

Olympic officials agreed to the domestic spectator ban during a meeting Thursday with Japanese officials, who also declared a state of emergency in the world's most populous city due the rise in infections. The state of emergency is set to take effect July 12 and run through August 22. That covers the entirety of the Olympic games, which are scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8. The Paralympics begin August 24.

"Many people were looking forward to watching the games at the venues, but I would like everyone to fully enjoy watching the games on TV at home," Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said after Thursday's meeting, according to the Associated Press. "It's gut-wrenching because many people looked forward to watching at the venues."

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It’s a mad, mad multiverse as Marvel drops first trailer for What If…?

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/08/2021 - 3:05pm

All our favorite MCU characters are back in animated form—plus a few more obscure players—in the first trailer for What If...?, a forthcoming series on Disney+ in which key events in the main timeline play out differently, "creating a multiverse of infinite possibilities." It's part of the MCU's Phase Four, in which this multiverse will clearly play a pivotal role.

(Some spoilers for prior MCU films below.)

This new series is based on the What If...? comic book anthology series that debuted in 1977, narrated by a character called Uatu the Watcher, an entity from a computer world who travels throughout the cosmos observing the rise of fall of various civilizations. Each story in the comics centered on an event in the mainstream Marvel Universe, but then there would be a point of divergence, and the rest of the story explored the consequences of that change to the timeline. Marvel Studios first explored the What If...? concept in S4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., when the team members found themselves trapped in a virtual creation called the Framework, each living out a drastically different life.

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GOP’s Big Tech plan ignores consumers, targets “censorship” of Republicans instead

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/08/2021 - 12:38pm
The Republican Party elephant symbol seen in a conference hall.

Enlarge / The Republican Party elephant symbol at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Congressional Republicans released an antitrust plan for Big Tech yesterday with an announcement that made it clear their focus is not on boosting competition or reducing harms to online consumers but on alleged "censorship" of conservatives.

"Big Tech is out to get conservatives" is the first sentence in the "House Judiciary Republican Agenda for Taking on Big Tech." The "conservative response" to tech-industry problems "will speed up and strengthen antitrust enforcement, hold Big Tech accountable for its censorship, and increase transparency around Big Tech's decisions," the opening paragraph continues. The word "competition" never appears in the two-page plan. A separate plan previously released by House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) does mention competition, but McCarthy's plan also focuses mostly on supposed bias against conservatives.

The House Judiciary Republicans' plan was released as former President Donald Trump sued Twitter, Facebook, and Google subsidiary YouTube for banning him, claiming that all three companies are guilty of "impermissible censorship" that violates "the First Amendment right to free speech." Trump's lawsuit has been widely mocked by legal experts and is almost certain to be defeated because the First Amendment does not require private companies to host speech and because Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives online platforms immunity from lawsuits over how they moderate user-submitted content.

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New fabric passively cools whatever it’s covering—including you

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/08/2021 - 12:25pm
Image of a white, Ars Technica branded shirt.

Enlarge / Like this, but even cooler. (credit: Ars Technica)

Rising temperatures around the world run the risk of creating a dangerous cycle where more people get air conditioning, which causes energy demand to surge and leads to higher carbon emissions, which makes temperatures rise even more. Renewable power is one option for breaking that cycle, but people have also been studying materials that enable what's called passive cooling. Without using energy, these materials take heat from whatever they're covering and radiate it out to space.

Most of these efforts have focused on building materials, with the goal of creating roofs that can keep buildings a few degrees cooler than the surrounding air. But now a team based in China has taken the same principles and applied them to fabric, creating a vest that keeps its users about 3º C cooler than they would be otherwise.

Built to chill

Whenever something's out in the sunlight, it's going to absorb some of those photons, which will get converted into heat. That heat can then be radiated back out in infrared wavelengths. The problem is that this doesn't actually cool things down much. Lots of the gasses in the atmosphere immediately absorb the infrared light, trapping the energy as heat in the immediate vicinity of the object. If the object is a person, there's the added issue of heat generated by their metabolism, which is also getting radiated away in the infrared at the same time.

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What fractals, Fibonacci, and the golden ratio have to do with cauliflower

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/08/2021 - 12:06pm
Macro-photo of green Romanesco cauliflower showcases the vegetable's striking fractal pattern.

Enlarge / Macro-photo of green Romanesco cauliflower showcases the vegetable's striking fractal pattern. (credit: Cathy Scola / Getty Images)

It's long been observed that many plants produce leaves, shoots, or flowers in spiral patterns. Cauliflower provides a unique example of this phenomenon, because those spirals repeat at several different size scales—a hallmark of fractal geometry. This self-similarity is particularly notable in the Romanesco variety because of the distinctive conical shape of its florets. Now, a team of French scientists from the CNRS has identified the underlying mechanism that gives rise to this unusual pattern, according to a new paper published in Science.

Fractal geometry is the mathematical offspring of chaos theory; a fractal is the pattern left behind in the wave of chaotic activity. That single geometric pattern repeats thousands of times at different magnifications (self-similarity). For that reason, fractals are often likened to Russian nesting dolls. Many fractal patterns exist only in mathematical theory, but over the last few decades, scientists have found there are fractal aspects to many irregular yet patterned shapes in nature, such the branchings of rivers and trees—or the strange self-similar repeating buds that make up the Romanesco cauliflower.

Each bud is made up of a series of smaller buds, although the pattern doesn't continue down to infinitely smaller size scales, so it's only an approximate fractal. The branched tips, called meristems, make up a logarithmic spiral, and the number of spirals on the head of Romanesco cauliflower is a Fibonacci number, which in turn is related to what's known as the "golden ratio."

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New Google Pay debit card lets you actually spend the money people send you

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/08/2021 - 10:53am

Earlier this year, Google blew up the existing Google Pay and started over with a new codebase that had more restrictions and fewer features. Now, the company is finally starting to add features on top of this stripped-down service, starting with the return of a debit card. According to a new report from 9to5Google (Google does not seem to have a blog post about this yet), starting this week, US Android users can request a "Google Pay Balance Card" that will allow them to spend their Google Pay balance directly on purchases.

Besides the NFC tap-and-pay functionality, Google Pay also has a P2P payment that lets you exchange money with other people. The pool for sending and receiving this money is your Google Pay balance, and previously, the main way to spend this balance was to transfer it out of Google Pay and into a bank account (though it's also a payment method on the Play Store and Google hardware store). This worked fine, and if it was deposited directly to a bank account, there weren't any fees. It was just a few extra taps and took several days to transfer. The new Google Pay card is a virtual Visa debit card that you can set as an NFC card, so now spending that money a friend sent you is as easy (and presumably quick) as setting your Google Pay balance as your NFC card and tapping your phone against a store payment terminal.

During Google's turbulent NFC payment history—spanning 2011's Google Wallet, 2015's Android Pay, 2018's Google Pay, and 2021's big revamp—almost everything has been done before. This Google Pay Balance Card feels a lot like the Google Wallet Card (2013-2016), which also let you spend your P2P balance in stores. That was a physical piece of plastic, though, and it didn't work over NFC. The Google Pay Balance Card is NFC-only and, despite the name, is not a physical card.

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Google “bought off Samsung” to limit app store competition, 36 states allege

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/08/2021 - 9:28am
Google “bought off Samsung” to limit app store competition, 36 states allege

Enlarge (credit: Andri Koolme / Flickr)

Yesterday, dozens of state attorneys general sued Google on antitrust grounds, alleging that the company worked to “preemptively quash” competing app stores (most notably the Samsung Galaxy Store) and maintain its monopoly on Android app distribution.

The lawsuit alleges that Google engaged in a range of anticompetitive practices, including offering large app developers profit-sharing agreements in exchange for exclusivity, creating unnecessary hurdles for sideloading, and attempting “to buy off Samsung to limit competition from the Samsung Galaxy app store.”

Google says the lawsuit is “meritless.” “It’s strange that a group of state attorneys general chose to file a lawsuit attacking a system that provides more openness and choice than others,” Wilson White, Google’s senior director of public policy, wrote in a blog post

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Four new electric platforms, five gigafactories: Stellantis’ EV plan

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/08/2021 - 8:09am
In 2024, Ram will offer a battery-electric Ram 1500 pickup truck.

Enlarge / In 2024, Ram will offer a battery-electric Ram 1500 pickup truck. (credit: Stellantis)

Stellantis, the automaker with a portfolio of 14 brands that includes Jeep, Ram, Peugeot, and Citroën, is planning four new platforms for battery-electric vehicles as part of its electrification strategy. The company revealed its new EV strategy on Thursday morning, laying out a roadmap that it says will result in class-leading EVs in every segment, from small city cars to body-on-frame pickup trucks and commercial vans.

"The customer is always at the heart of Stellantis, and our commitment with this €30 billion [$35.5 billion] plus investment plan is to offer iconic vehicles that have the performance, capability, style, comfort and electric range that fit seamlessly into their daily lives," said Carlos Tavares, Stellantis' chief executive officer. "The strategy we laid out today focuses the right amount of investment on the right technology to reach the market at the right time, ensuring that Stellantis powers the freedom of movement in the most efficient, affordable and sustainable way."

The STLA Small platform will be for city cars with a range of up to 300 miles (500 km), and we're unlikely to see many of them here in the US, barring some fundamental shift in North American attitudes toward small, slow, cheap cars. STLA medium will give rise to compact EVs with a range of up to 440 miles (700 km).

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Reconstructing Roman industrial engineering

ArsTechnica - Thu, 07/08/2021 - 3:45am
Given the present state of the watermills, reconstructing their operation wasn't simple.

Enlarge / Given the present state of the watermills, reconstructing their operation wasn't simple. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Colosseum’s arches, the Pantheon’s dome, the Barbegal watermill’s... elbow flumes? Roman architecture is known for elegance and ingenuity. A curious relic, pieced together in a museum basement, shows that Roman design also boosted the efficiency of an ancient industrial complex built to function rather than impress.

The 2nd-century Barbegal watermill complex in southern France was no soaring monument meant to awe the masses. But neither was it a run-of-the-mill mill. It was the most formidable concentration of mechanical power known to have existed in ancient times—an array of 16 waterwheels, capable of grinding an estimated 55,000 pounds of flour on a daily basis.

Getting that array to work effectively required careful engineering thousands of years ago. And in the present day, with the mill complex in ruins, an international team of experts in archaeology, geology, and fluid mechanics was needed to piece together clues to the system of wooden chutes that channeled water efficiently through the complex. The key component the research team uncovered was an oddly shaped water gutter, unique in its design: the elbow flume.

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mRNA vaccine technology moves to flu: Moderna says trial has begun

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/07/2021 - 3:45pm
 Moderna says trial has begun

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Tom Williams)

Moderna has given out the first doses of an mRNA-based influenza vaccine to participants in an early-phase clinical trial, the company announced Wednesday.

Moderna ultimately plans to test the vaccine on about 180 people in the Phase I/II randomized, stratified, observer-blind trial. The trial will look at safety, different doses, and immune responses.

The vaccine, called mRNA-1010, is designed to target four lineages of influenza viruses that circulate seasonally each year, just like the current quadrivalent flu vaccines on the market. The four virus lineages are those identified by the World Health Organization as the ones to target for disease prevention each year—seasonal influenza type A lineages H1N1 and H3N2 as well as influenza type B lineages Yamagata and Victoria. If mRNA-1010 is shown to be effective against the yearly plague in later-stage trials, Moderna aims to eventually bundle it with three other mRNA-based vaccines to create a yearly one-stop shot.

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OnePlus admits to throttling 300 popular apps with recent update

ArsTechnica - Wed, 07/07/2021 - 3:30pm
OnePlus admits to throttling 300 popular apps with recent update

Enlarge (credit: Ron Amadeo)

The latest smartphone OEM to be caught playing games with device power is OnePlus. Depending on whom you want to believe, the company is either benchmark cheating or "optimizing performance." But everyone—OnePlus included—seems to agree that OnePlus is taking control of app performance out of the hands of users and deciding what is and isn't allowed to run at maximum speed on the user's device.

The story starts with Andrei Frumusanu of AnandTech. Frumusanu recently did some digging into the behavior of the OnePlus 9 and found it dramatically throttled Chrome and other popular apps. At times, Chrome was apparently limited to the Cortex-A55 cores only, ignoring most of the phone's computing horsepower, which is present in the bigger A78 and X1 cores.

Why would any OEM want to make its phone slower on popular apps? Frumusanu assumed this was a roundabout way of benchmark cheating:

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