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.

GM has no reason to back out of its one-sided deal with Nikola

ArsTechnica - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 10:08am
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, in 2019.

Enlarge / Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, in 2019. (credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

GM CEO Mary Barra on Monday signaled that the company is standing by its deal to produce Nikola's Badger pickup truck.

"The company has worked with a lot of different partners and we’re a very capable team that has done the appropriate diligence," Barra said during a conference with RBC Capital Markets on Monday.

GM is standing by Nikola despite recent revelations that the startup misled the public about the capabilities of its first truck, the Nikola One. At its 2016 unveiling, founder Trevor Milton claimed that the Nikola One "fully functions." But on Monday, Nikola admitted that the company never had a working prototype of the truck. The company acknowledged that a 2018 promotional video showed the truck rolling down a shallow hill—not driving under its own power.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Apple Watch Series 6 adds blood-oxygen monitoring and more

ArsTechnica - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 10:07am

As expected, Apple has unveiled the next model of Apple Watch—the Apple Watch Series 6—in some flashy new colors, as well as a less-expensive alternative, the Apple Watch SE. As with other recent Apple Watch updates, the Series 6 is focused primarily on adding new health-monitoring features, like blood-oxygen monitoring, as well as personal customization options, while the Apple Watch SE offers a faster, newer alternative for those looking to spend a bit less. Both can now work without being paired to an iPhone via Apple's new Family setup feature.

Powered by Apple's new S6 processor, the Series 6 has a dual-core processor based on the company's A13 Bionic chip. Along with a faster processor, the watch gets an improved always-on display that's two times brighter than the Series 5. Rounding out the new hardware is an always-on altimeter.

All this upgraded hardware powers newly announced features like the Blood Oxygen app. This app lets users measure their blood-oxygen saturation in just 15 seconds and takes readings periodically throughout your waking and sleeping life. All of this is aimed at keeping track of respiratory and cardiac health to monitor asthma symptoms and potential heart problems, for example. Apple has partnered with the Seattle Flu Study, the University of California Irvine, and Anthem to help develop three new research studies, including how to better manage asthma, using data to prevent heart failure, and how changes in blood oxygen and heart rate can indicate early signs of health problems, as in the onset of COVID-19 infection, for instance.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Liveblog: All the news from Apple’s “Time Flies” event at 1pm ET today

ArsTechnica - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 9:37am
The key image that goes with this month's event.

Enlarge / The key image that goes with this month's event. (credit: Apple)

At 10:00am Pacific time (1pm Eastern) on Tuesday, September 15, Apple reps will take the stage—likely in an otherwise empty Steve Jobs Theater at Apple's headquarters—to announce new products. Typically at this time of year, these products are new iPhones and Apple Watch models, but in the time of COVID-19, nothing is certain.

In any case, Ars Technica will be liveblogging the proceedings and sharing all the news from the event in real time, just like we always do.

Reports and rumors have pointed to a broad range of new Apple products expected by the end of the year, including four new iPhones with new designs, 5G, and (at least in some models) new 3D sensors, and one or even two new Apple Watches—one successor to the Series 5, and one cheaper alternative meant to compete with Fitbit.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

A paper we covered has been retracted, and we couldn’t be happier

ArsTechnica - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 9:02am
Image of a basketball player having his shot blocked.

Enlarge / Dikembe Mutombo rejects your flawed publication. (credit: DAVID MAXWELL / Getty Images)

Well, that took a while. Five years after Ars' Chris Lee pointed out that the authors of a homeopathy paper were doing little more than offering up "magic" as an explanation for their results, the editors of the journal it was published in have retracted it. The retraction comes over the extensive objections of the paper's authors, who continued to believe their work was solid. But really, the back-and-forth between the editors and authors has gotten bogged down in details that miss the real problem with the original paper.

The work described in the now-retracted paper involved a small clinical trial for depression treatment with three groups of participants. One group received a standard treatment, another a placebo. The third group received a homeopathic remedy—meaning they received water. According to the analysis in the paper, the water was more effective than either the placebo or the standard treatment. But as Chris noted in his original criticism, the authors leap to the conclusion that treating people with water must therefore be effective.

The problem with this is that it ignores some equally viable explanations, such as a statistical fluke in a very small study (only about 45 people per group) or that it was the time spent with the homeopathic practitioner that made the difference, not the water. These are problems with the interpretation of the results rather than with the data. (This probably explains why the paper ended up published by PLOS ONE, where reviewers are asked to simply look at the quality of the data rather than the significance of the results.)

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New Google Fiber plan: $100 for 2Gbps, plus Wi-Fi 6 router and mesh extender

ArsTechnica - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 8:47am
Illustration of lasers flowing down a tunnel to represent fast broadband speeds.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Yuichiro Chino)

Google Fiber will soon offer 2Gbps service for $100 a month, a package that includes a Wi-Fi 6 router and mesh extender, the Alphabet-owned ISP announced yesterday.

Google fiber-to-the-home service never rolled out as far as many people hoped, but the ISP is still making improvements in cities where it does provide broadband. The new offering is double the download speed of Google Fiber's standard 1Gbps service and costs $30 more. While the new offer is 2Gbps on the download side, it will be 1Gbps for uploads.

In addition to fiber-to-the-home, Google Fiber offers wireless home Internet access in some cities through its Webpass service. Even the Webpass wireless service will get the 2Gbps plan, the announcement said. Webpass' standard speeds today range from 100Mbps to 1Gbps.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Hurricane Sally will bring devastating floods to the Southern United States

ArsTechnica - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 8:40am
The Atlantic tropics at 11am ET on Tuesday, September 15.

Enlarge / The Atlantic tropics at 11am ET on Tuesday, September 15.

It is September 15, with more than two months remaining in the Atlantic hurricane season, and there is just one name left in the cupboard for tropical cyclones—Wilfred. And this storm will probably form off the coast of Africa in a day or two.

In some ways, this has been a truly bonkers year for Atlantic hurricane activity, and in other ways it has been fairly pedestrian. But before assessing the climatology, it's worth focusing on the one storm certain to have a direct impact on the United States, Hurricane Sally.

Sally’s flooding

Hurricane Sally has fortunately not intensified during the last 12 hours. Instead, it has weakened some, thanks to wind shear affecting the ability of its low-level and mid-level cores to align perfectly. This wind shear from its west, along with the upwelling of cooler water deeper in the Gulf, should prevent further strengthening today. The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will have maximum sustained winds of 85mph when it comes ashore Wednesday morning along the Alabama coastline.

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Apple’s AirPods Pro are on sale for $199 today

ArsTechnica - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 8:06am
Apple’s AirPods Pro are on sale for $199 today

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Today's Dealmaster is headlined by the best price we've seen to date for Apple's AirPods Pro, which are currently down to $199 at Amazon and Staples. While we've seen the noise-cancelling true wireless earphones hit this price briefly earlier this year, today's deal is still $50 off Apple's MSRP, about $35 off their typical street price online, and the first time we've seen them fall below $200 on Amazon.

We recently recommended the AirPods Pro in our guide to the best home office gear. In short, if you're looking for a pair of totally wireless earphones and specifically want active noise cancellation, they're still hard to beat a year after they launched. They have a largely neutral sound profile that represents a sizable upgrade over the base AirPods, even if they're a bit light on bass. They're remarkably simple to pair with other iOS devices, and they have few connection hiccups once they're hooked up. Their noise-cancelling quality is a step below top-notch over-ear headphones like Sony's WH-1000XM4, but it's still more than strong enough for most people's needs. An accompanying "transparency" mode is excellent at blending in outside noise with your music when you need it. Apple is now adding new features like automatic device switching and spatial audio support, too. And though we prefer the physical playback controls of a Jabra Elite 75t or Beats Powerbeats Pro, the AirPods Pro's touch sensors are easier to use than those of the standard AirPods.

The AirPods Pro have their share of issues: their five-ish hours of battery life is mediocre, they don't let you adjust volume from the earphones themselves, and they lose much of their intuitiveness when connected to an Android or Windows device. It's also worth noting that Apple is holding a special event today, and while we don't expect to see new AirPods Pro in the immediate future, upgraded base AirPods are expected to arrive early next year. Still, if you want a pair of noise-cancelling wireless earphones today, the AirPods Pro remain a good buy at this deal price.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New Windows exploit lets you instantly become admin. Have you patched?

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 4:20pm
A casually dressed man smiles next to exposed computer components.

Enlarge (credit: VGrigas (WMF))

Researchers have developed and published a proof-of-concept exploit for a recently patched Windows vulnerability that can allow access to an organization’s crown jewels—the Active Directory domain controllers that act as an all-powerful gatekeeper for all machines connected to a network.

CVE-2020-1472, as the vulnerability is tracked, carries a critical severity rating from Microsoft as well as a maximum of 10 under the Common Vulnerability Scoring System. Exploits require that an attacker already have a foothold inside a targeted network, either as an unprivileged insider or through the compromise of a connected device.

An “insane” bug with “huge impact”

Such post-compromise exploits have become increasingly valuable to attackers pushing ransomware or espionage spyware. Tricking employees to click on malicious links and attachments in email is relatively easy. Using those compromised computers to pivot to more valuable resources can be much harder.

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Sweeping internal Facebook memo: “I have blood on my hands”

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 2:31pm
Facebook logo photoshopped to appear spattered with blood.

Enlarge (credit: Facebook / Aurich Lawson)

After being fired by Facebook this month, a data scientist published a 6,600-word memo to the company's internal communication systems breaking down 2.5 years of her experiences on the "fake engagement team." The resulting stories, largely centered on misinformation campaigns with both subtle and clear links to government staffers and political parties around the world, were shared with BuzzFeed News and reprinted with various redactions on Monday, prompting the reporters to describe the memo as "a damning account of Facebook's failures."

Former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang pointed to activity across the world in nations such as Azerbaijan, Honduras, India, Ukraine, Spain, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Some of these stories include metrics for how many fake accounts Zhang purged, with one story in particular, about the potential spread of COVID-19 misinformation to United States users, linked to a ring of 672,000 accounts in Spain.

“I was the one who made the decision”

Arguably more egregious than the numbers was the silo that Zhang allegedly operated within, without institutional support, to take responsibility for whether particular rings of accounts were moderated. "Individually, the impact was likely small in each [country's] case, but the world is a vast place," Zhang wrote in her memo. "Although I made the best decision I could based on the knowledge available at the time, ultimately I was the one who made the decision not to push more or prioritize further in each case, and I know that I have blood on my hands by now."

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Chemical that shouldn’t be there spotted in Venus’ atmosphere

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 2:03pm
Image of a pale circle with irregular lines in front of it.

Enlarge / The spectral signature of phosphine superimposed on an image of Venus. (credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Greaves et al. & JCMT)

Today, researchers are announcing that they've observed a chemical in the atmosphere of Venus that has no right to be there. The chemical, phosphine (a phosphorus atom hooked up to three hydrogens), would be unstable in the conditions found in Venus' atmosphere, and there's no obvious way for the planet's chemistry to create much of it.

That's leading to a lot of speculation about the equally unlikely prospect of life somehow surviving in Venus' upper atmosphere. But a lot about this work requires input from people not involved in the initial study, which today's publication is likely to prompt. While there are definitely reasons to think phosphine is present on Venus, its detection required some pretty involved computer analysis. And there are definitely some creative chemists who are going to want to rethink the possible chemistry of our closest neighbor.

What is phosphine?

Phosphorus is one row below nitrogen on the periodic table. And just as nitrogen can combine with three hydrogen atoms to form the familiar ammonia, phosphorus can bind with three hydrogens to form phosphine. Under Earth-like conditions, phosphine is a gas, but not a pleasant one: it's extremely toxic and has a tendency to spontaneously combust in the presence of oxygen. And that later feature is why we don't see much of it today; it's simply unstable in the presence of any oxygen.

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War Stories: How Forza learned to love neural nets to train AI drivers

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 1:11pm

Produced by Justin Wolfson, edited by Shandor Garrison. Click here for transcript.

Once an upstart, the Forza franchise is now firmly established within the pantheon of great racing games. The first installment was created as the Xbox's answer to Gran Turismo, but with a healthy helping of online multiplayer racing, too. Since then, it has grown with Microsoft's Xbox consoles, with more realistic graphics and ever-more accurate physics in the track-focused Forza Motorsport series as well as evolving into open-world adventuring (and even a trip to the Lego dimension) for the Forza Horizon games.

If you're one of the millions of people who've played a Forza racing game, you're probably aware of the games' AI opponents, called "Drivatars." When the first Drivatars debuted in Forza Motorsport in 2005, they were a substantial improvement over the NPCs we raced in other driving games, which often just followed the same preprogrammed route around the track. "It was a machine-learning system on a hard drive using a Bayesian Neural Network to record [racing] lines and characteristics of how somebody drove a car," explains Dan Greenawalt, creative director of the Forza franchise at Turn 10 Studios, in our latest War Stories video.

In fact, the technology originated at Microsoft Research's outpost in Cambridge, England, where computer scientists started using neural nets to see if it was possible to get a computer to identify a Formula 1 driver by the way they drove through corners.

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Microsoft declares its underwater data center test was a success

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 12:58pm
The <em>Northern Isles</em>, a 12-rack / 864-server underwater data center pod, is winched off the seafloor in this picture after its two-year trial deployment.

Enlarge / The Northern Isles, a 12-rack / 864-server underwater data center pod, is winched off the seafloor in this picture after its two-year trial deployment. (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft retrieved a 40-foot-long, 12-rack, self-contained underwater data center from its seafloor home offshore from the Orkney Islands earlier this summer.

The retrieval of the Northern Isles began the final phase of Microsoft's Project Natick research initiative, exploring the concept of deploying sealed server pods just offshore major population centers as a replacement for traditional onshore data centers.

Why put servers underwater?

Project Natick has been underway for several years; we covered the two-month trial deployment of Leona Philpot, the company's first underwater server pod, in 2016, and the deployment of the newly retrieved Orkney Isles pod in 2018.

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Eero mesh Wi-Fi 6 hardware test results have been spotted at the FCC

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 12:19pm
White electronic devices in a row on a table.

Enlarge / We expect the new Eero Pro to look largely like the existing Eero Pro or the Amazon Eero units shown here. (credit: Jim Salter)

Tech blog Zatz Not Funny broke the news this weekend that Wi-Fi 6-enabled Eero hardware is at the FCC for testing and validation. Details on the new hardware are sketchy for the moment—Eero has requested confidentiality for most of the interesting data through March 10, 2021.

What we do know is that three devices under test are listed—an Eero Pro, Eero Gateway, and Eero Extender. All three are Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)-enabled parts. The Eero Pro is a tri-band design (one 2.4GHz radio and two 5GHz radios), similar to the current Eero Pro; the Gateway and Extender are dual-band designs differentiated by wired Ethernet ports—the Gateway has two, and the Extender has none.

Ars has reached out to Eero, with no response as of press time. All we know for sure is what limited nonconfidential data is available from RF testing at the FCC—Eero's site itself still simply says, "there is no timeline set for 802.11ax (also known as Wi-Fi 6) support."

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Facebook leak reveals Oculus Quest 2 as a 4K standalone VR headset

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 12:03pm

Facebook has inadvertently revealed key information about its next VR headset, the Oculus Quest 2, ahead of an expected unveiling at the Facebook Connect conference later this week.

As discussed in videos posted briefly on Facebook's Blueprint e-learning platform (and since archived on YouTube), the Oculus Quest 2 is presented as more of a spec upgrade to the existing Quest than a completely new generational split. The standalone headset, which doesn't require external sensors or processing hardware, will play all original Quest games, according to the video. The Quest 2 can also display VR games running on a Windows PC via Oculus Link, just like the original headset.

The Quest 2 sports a SnapDragon XR2 processor, according to the videos, a significant upgrade from the Snapdragon 835 that was adapted for the Quest from mobile phones. Chipmaker Qualcomm says the XR2 can provide two times the CPU & GPU performance, four times the pixel throughput, and 11 times the AI operations per second, compared to the 835.

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Nvidia will keep ARM licensing “neutral,” wants to license GPU tech, too

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 11:38am
ARM logo combined with Nvidia logo.

Enlarge (credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia has officially announced that it is buying ARM from SoftBank for $40 billion. The deal is one of the biggest tech acquisitions of all time and will see Nvidia control the world's most popular CPU architecture.

Nvidia's press release oddly paints the deal as primarily about "AI," saying the deal "brings together NVIDIA's leading AI computing platform with ARM's vast ecosystem to create the premier computing company for the age of artificial intelligence." Nvidia apparently sees GPU-accelerated AI as its next big growth sector, and the company currently sells embedded systems for self-driving cars and multi-GPU systems for workstations and servers, offering high-teraflop deep-learning performance. Somehow it thinks ARM will help with this.

What seems far more important, though, is how Nvidia will manage ARM's wide-ranging chip design and architecture-licensing business, which powers the majority of the world's electronic devices, especially those smaller than a laptop. Nvidia says that "as part of NVIDIA, ARM will continue to operate its open-licensing model while maintaining the global customer neutrality that has been foundational to its success." On a conference call following the deal, ARM CEO Simon Segars also reiterated, "We will maintain our neutral business model and will keep a level of independence."

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Nikola admits prototype was rolling downhill in promotional video

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 10:58am
A Nikola video shows the Nikola One prototype rolling down a shallow hill in Utah. Nikola now says it never claimed the truck was driving under its own power.

Enlarge / A Nikola video shows the Nikola One prototype rolling down a shallow hill in Utah. Nikola now says it never claimed the truck was driving under its own power. (credit: Nikola)

When Nikola Motor Company founder Trevor Milton unveiled a prototype of the Nikola One truck in December 2016, he portrayed it as fully functional.

"We will have a chain on the seats to prevent people from coming in just for the safety. I don't want someone to end up doing something and driving this truck off the stage," Milton said. "This thing fully functions and works, which is really incredible."

In January 2018, Nikola posted a video to YouTube and other social channels called "Nikola One Electric Semi Truck in Motion." It showed the Nikola One truck moving rapidly along a two-lane desert highway.

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YouTube unlawfully violates kids’ privacy, new $3.2B lawsuit claims

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 10:51am
A sign featuring the YouTube logo, outside the YouTube Space studios in London on June 4, 2019.

Enlarge / A sign featuring the YouTube logo, outside the YouTube Space studios in London on June 4, 2019. (credit: Olly Curtis | Future | Getty Images)

A new lawsuit filed in a United Kingdom court alleges that YouTube knowingly violated children's privacy laws in that country and seeks damages in excess of £2.5 billion (about $3.2 billion).

A tech researcher named Duncan McCann filed the lawsuit in the UK's High Court and is serving as representative claimant in the case—a similar, though not identical, process to a US class-action suit. Foxglove, a UK tech advocacy group, is backing the claim, it said today.

"YouTube, and its parent company Google, are ignoring laws designed to protect children," Foxglove wrote in a press release. "They know full well that millions of children watch YouTube. They’re making money from unlawfully harvesting data about these young children as they watch YouTube videos—and then running highly targeted adverts, designed to influence vulnerable young minds."

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Verizon to buy TracFone, expanding big carriers’ control of prepaid industry

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 10:00am
A Verizon logo displayed along with stock prices at the New York Stock Exchange.

Enlarge / A monitor displaying a Verizon logo and share prices at the New York Stock Exchange on September 4, 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Verizon today announced it has struck a deal to buy TracFone in a further consolidation of the US cellular industry.

Verizon is one of three major carriers that operate nationwide wireless networks, along with AT&T and T-Mobile (which recently bought Sprint). TracFone is the country's largest reseller of mobile service and already relies primarily on Verizon's network to provide connectivity. More than 13 million of TracFone's 21 million customers "currently rely on Verizon's wireless network through an existing wholesale agreement," Verizon's announcement said.

After the sale is completed, "all TracFone customers will have access" to the Verizon network, a Verizon fact sheet on the deal said. Verizon could try to shift existing TracFone customers to Verizon plans, as Verizon said the deal will bring "enhanced access to its industry-leading wireless network and comprehensive suite of mobility products and services to a new customer base."

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Beautifully preserved cave bears emerge from Siberian permafrost

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 8:52am
color photo showing frozen cave bear head in profile

Enlarge / My, what big teeth you have. (credit: NEFU)

Reindeer herders on the Siberian island of Bolshoy Lyakhovsky recently stumbled across the frozen carcass of a cave bear. Nearby, on the Siberian mainland of Yakutia, a tiny, beautifully preserved cave bear cub recently emerged from another patch of melting permafrost. It’s the first time in 15,000 years that humans have come face to face with a cave bear in the flesh—until now, we’ve known the species only from bones, tracks, and abandoned nests.

The bear necessities

Many of our ancestors knew cave bears (Ursus spelaeus) all too well. At Denisova Cave in Siberia’s Altai Mountains, about 3,600km (2,200 miles) from Bolshoy Lyakhovsky Island, a 2019 study of coprolites (fossil poop) and ancient DNA mixed into the cave sediment found that bears had lived in the cave off and on for around 300,000 years, probably alternating with the Neanderthals, Denisovans, and Homo sapiens who also lived there at various times.

In fact, most cave bear fossils have been found inside caves, and paleontologists think these bears probably lived in the caves full-time, rather than just popping in for a quick four-month nap. Across Europe and Asia, bears and people probably competed for the same real estate for around 300,000 years; it probably wasn’t much of a contest, though. These lumbering Ice Age giants stood 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) high when they reared up on their hind legs, and the largest males weighed up to 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds). That’s about the size of a large polar bear or Kodiak bear today. You wouldn’t want to meet one in a dark cave.

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Lexus’ new 2021 LC500 Convertible puts on the pretty

ArsTechnica - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 8:27am

In 2018 when the Lexus LC500 coupe first wafted past our eyes, we called it a herald for Lexus' future, a marker for upcoming Lexus design and the first pretty Lexus since the original SC300 & SC400 (known as the Toyota Soarer in Japan).

While the intervening two years have not produced an onslaught of pretty and muscular Lexuses inspired by the LC, the company is now unleashing a convertible LC500 that builds on the pretty to make it prettier, airier, opener, funner, and even slicker. In a world of expensive luxe-niche GTs, the LC Convertible might even out-do the vaunted Mercedes-Benz SL. Though, where the SL offers just two seats and the LC offers four, the two in the rear barely accommodate luggage, let alone very small humans.

However, the Mercedes SL was born an open-top car, and the LC wasn't. And the biggest challenge to engineers when cleaving the roof off a coupe is structural stiffness. Remedies are needed to keep the car from shaking like a paint mixer over bumpy roads (or folding up like a pretzel in the worst of cases). Despite only being Lexus' third convertible in history, the car suffers from none of the shakes of most converted coupes.

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