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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no 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 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.

The iX is BMW’s new flagship electric vehicle

ArsTechnica - Wed, 11/11/2020 - 9:11am

A little over two years ago, we got our first look at BMW's next-generation battery-electric vehicle architecture. Concept has now moved into the realm of reality with the official unveiling of the BMW iX. Set for a US launch in early 2022, the iX uses BMW's fifth-generation electric powertrain, with two electric motors capable of producing a combined 500hp (368kW) to propel the SUV from 0 to 100km/h (62mph) in under five seconds.

Despite the lack of an internal combustion engine, the iX looks unmistakably like a BMW, massive black grille and all. It's roughly the same size as the X5, but there are a couple of interesting design choices that make it stand apart from its SUV brethren. First off is the hood—or lack thereof. Unlike just about every other BEV on the market, there's no frunk. As a matter of fact, there's not even a hood to open. This curious design choice means that you add windshield wiper fluid by pressing down on the roundel badge above the grille, which pops open to reveal the fluid container. The grille itself is completely closed off, with lidar, camera, and radar tucked behind a translucent surface underneath the grille.

The other odd choice is a hexagonal steering wheel. BMW claims it makes getting in and out of the iX easier while providing a better view of the dashboard display, but I'm not sold on the concept. The steering wheel isn't the only difference between the iX and X1-7 cockpits. Instead of having separate displays for the instrument panel and infotainment panel, BMW has combined the two into what appears to be a single massive display that is angled toward the driver. The 14.9-inch infotainment display can be controlled by touch in addition to the usual center console dial.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Jim Bridenstine is leaving NASA. How should we assess his 30-month tenure?

ArsTechnica - Wed, 11/11/2020 - 8:55am
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine testifies before a US Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee on September 30, 2020.

Enlarge / NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine testifies before a US Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee on September 30, 2020. (credit: Nicholas Kamm-Pool/Getty Images)

The first thing to know about James Frederick Bridenstine, who has served as NASA's administrator for a little more than 30 months, is that he was not staying on as the space agency's leader regardless of the presidential election results.

Not that he wants out of the job. Bridenstine has relished the challenge of leading NASA through troubling times and overcoming initial concerns about his partisanship to lead NASA—all of NASA—through the turbulent years of the Trump administration. Nor is it because he has failed. Bridenstine has largely succeeded in pushing the agency forward and will leave it better than he found it.

But the reality is that a Democratic president was never going to keep Bridenstine, who has a political rather than a technical background, on as administrator. And he knew this. He said as much this week, telling Aviation Week that a new president would probably want someone else, someone fully trusted. After all, he had previously introduced legislation to remove Earth science from NASA's mission statement, and he criticized same-sex marriages. Bridenstine will resign his position on January 20.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Micron announces new 3D NAND process—denser, faster, less expensive

ArsTechnica - Wed, 11/11/2020 - 4:45am
Informational slide about hard drive.

Enlarge / We're all intimately familiar with the Burj Khalifa's relationship to the Eiffel Tower, right? (credit: Micron)

On Monday, memory and storage vendor Micron announced that its new 176-layer 3D NAND (the storage medium underlying most SSDs) process is in production and has begun shipping to customers. The new technology should offer higher storage densities and write endurance, better performance, and lower costs.

Replacement-gate architecture

The new NAND process is Micron's fifth generation of NAND and its second generation of replacement-gate architecture—a replacement to the earlier, floating-gate architecture used by both Micron and Intel in the past. In traditional floating gates, insulators separate individual cells, which results in undesired capacitance between cells.

Micron's replacement-gate architecture instead builds multiple cells into a single insulating structure, virtually eliminating cell-to-cell capacitance, and (according to Micron) increasing write endurance, power efficiency, and performance. The company has not yet provided concrete benchmarks quantifying these claims.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Why Biden tapped several Big Tech staffers for his transition team

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 8:03pm
A older man in a suit and face mask walks past an American flag.

Enlarge / Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden arrives to speak at a "Build Back Better" Clean Energy event on July 14, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. (credit: Olivier Douliery | AFP | Getty Images)

On Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden announced a roster of policy experts who will help ensure "a smooth transfer of power" and enable the new Biden administration to "hit the ground running."

The list has more than 500 members, and technology companies are well-represented on the list. It includes current employees of Airbnb, Amazon, Dell, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Lyft, Salesforce, Stripe, and Uber. It also includes employees from the philanthropic organizations of three tech moguls: the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates), and Schmidt Ventures (former Google CEO Eric Schmidt).

The list also includes one representative from a technology-focused non-profit group: Gene Kimmelman of Public Knowledge will be part of the transition team for the Department of Justice.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

England faces a proper “argy-bargy” in Pennyworth S2 trailer

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 6:38pm

Jack Bannon reprises his role as former British SAS soldier Alfred Pennyworth for the second season of Pennyworth on Epix.

An alternate London is once again threatened by a sinister society aiming to take over the British government in the trailer for the second season of Pennyworth, a crime drama/prequel series based on the character of Alfred Pennyworth, aka Bruce Wayne/Batman's loyal butler. Like Doom Patrol and the cancelled Swamp Thing series, which languished in the hinterlands of the DC Universe streaming service—Doom Patrol has since moved to HBO Max—Pennyworth being aired on Epix limited S1's audience reach. And that's a shame because it's a solid series, even if it only has a passing connection with the DC Comics characters who inspired it.

(Spoilers for S1 below.)

The series is set in an alternate London circa the 1960s. Jack Bannon stars as the titular Alfred Pennyworth, aka "Alfie," a former working-class British SAS soldier who has found work as a bouncer at an exclusive club and hopes to start up his own security firm.  Among his potential clients: an American businessman named Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge), who is secretly a CIA agent working undercover with a group called the No Name League. Among the league's other American agents: Martha Kane (Emma Paetz), Batman's future mother.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Dutch scientists reconstruct spread of coronavirus through mink farms

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 3:41pm
A pair of mink in the wild. They're so cute you might throw up.

Enlarge (credit: Marc Evans / Flickr)

It's still not clear what species carried the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that made its way into humans. But it has become increasingly clear that we can spread it to a large number of species, and a subset of those species are then able to pass it on to others. If those species are able to pass it back to humans, it adds to the risk posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. That's because it provides a route for new infections that avoids all of the means we're using to try to control the virus's spread between humans. And there's also the chance that the virus's reproduction within an animal species would select for a mutation that would make the virus more dangerous to humans.

While we've already found the virus in cats and dogs, the big risk so far has turned out to be an unexpected source: mink. As early as August, it was clear that the virus was killing lots of the animals on US mink farms. Earlier this month, the discovery that the virus had spread back from mink to humans caused Denmark to decide to cull its entire population of mink. Now, with some people on edge because of that drastic action, we have a report that provides detailed tracing of the virus' spread between mink and humans, providing us a better sense of the risks involved.

There and back again

The work was done in the Netherlands, which also hosts a substantial number of mink farms. The new paper, written by public health and veterinary officials, is essentially the equivalent of a contact-tracing report done for mink. It uses a combination of diagnostics to identify people and animals that have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2, whole genome sequencing to understand the source of those infections, and interviews (limited to the humans) to help determine any actions that might influence the virus's spread.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ubuntu fixes bugs that standard users could use to become root

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 2:46pm
Image of ones and zeros with the word

(credit: Pixabay)

Ubuntu developers have fixed a series of vulnerabilities that made it easy for standard users to gain coveted root privileges.

“This blog post is about an astonishingly straightforward way to escalate privileges on Ubuntu,” Kevin Backhouse, a researcher at GitHub, wrote in a post published on Tuesday. “With a few simple commands in the terminal, and a few mouse clicks, a standard user can create an administrator account for themselves.”

The first series of commands triggered a denial-of-service bug in a daemon called accountsservice, which as its name suggests is used to manage user accounts on the computer. To do this, Backhouse created a Symlink that linked a file named .pam_environment to /dev/zero, changed the regional language setting, and sent accountsservice a SIGSTOP. With the help of a few extra commands, Backhouse was able to set a timer that gave him just enough time to log out of the account before accountsservice crashed.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

James Corden is a snarky AI that might take out humanity in Superintelligence

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 2:24pm

An all-powerful AI (James Corden) chooses to study the most average person on Earth, Carol Peters (Melissa McCarthy), to determine if humans are worth saving in Superintelligence.

Let's face it: this is going to a dismal holiday season for film lovers, with most movie theaters shuttered for the foreseeable future and just one major release—Wonder Woman 1984—left standing after studios shifted all their blockbusters to next year. And even Wonder Woman 1984 is likely to end up getting bumped to next year from its currently planned Christmas Day release date unless we can get this raging pandemic in check quickly.

On the bright side, streaming platforms and VOD are doing their best to fill in the gap, and the dearth of major new releases is giving a lot of smaller indie films a better chance to find an audience. Plus, HBO Max just dropped the official trailer for Superintelligence, an action comedy starring Melissa McCarthy—and directed by her husband, Ben Falcone—that will drop Thanksgiving Weekend.

But the decision to skip the usual broad theatrical release in favor of the streaming platform was made last year—before the pandemic hit. That makes this film an intriguing potential harbinger of what the media ecosystem for films might look like in the future, especially for midbudget films. It was a big marquee acquisition for the fledgling HBO Max, which officially launched in May.

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Microsoft engineer gets nine years for stealing $10M from Microsoft

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 2:00pm
Microsoft engineer gets nine years for stealing $10M from Microsoft

(credit: Robert Scoble)

A former Microsoft software engineer from Ukraine has been sentenced to nine years in prison for stealing more than $10 million in store credit from Microsoft's online store. From 2016 to 2018, Volodymyr Kvashuk worked for Microsoft as a tester, placing mock online orders to make sure everything was working smoothly.

The software automatically prevented shipment of physical products to testers like Kvashuk. But in a crucial oversight, it didn't block the purchase of virtual gift cards. So the 26-year-old Kvashuk discovered that he could use his test account to buy real store credit and then use the credit to buy real products.

At first, Kvashuk bought an Office subscription and a couple of graphics cards. But when no one objected to those small purchases, he grew much bolder. In late 2017 and early 2018, he stole millions of dollars worth of Microsoft store credit and resold it online for bitcoin, which he then cashed out using Coinbase.

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With coal dying, Arizona utility offers $169 million deal with Navajo

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 1:45pm
A train cuts across the scrubby Southwest.

Enlarge / This electric train carried coal from the mines to the Navajo Generating Station, which has now shut down. (credit: Bill Morrow / Flickr)

The physics of climate change dictate that we must move on from fossil fuels to avoid expensive and deadly consequences, but that shift obviously comes with pain for communities and businesses tied to the fossil fuel industry. This may bring to mind coal-mining communities in places like Kentucky and West Virginia, but it’s also playing out across the Navajo and Hopi lands in Arizona and New Mexico.

There are several coal plants located in or near the Navajo Nation, fed by associated coal mines, and staffed by Navajo and Hopi workers—a major source of jobs. Of these, the Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta mine has already shuttered, while the Cholla Power Plant is shutting down over the next few years. The Four Corners plant in New Mexico has seen its planned 2031 retirement date accelerated.

There are several reasons for this. Older coal plants have been retiring across the US as the economics favor cheaper natural gas and renewables. Additionally, the electric utility Arizona Public Service (APS), which owns part of each of these three plants, had a change in leadership at the beginning of the year. New CEO Jeff Guldner announced a plan for the utility to reach zero emissions by 2050, with 45 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2030. That was a shocking reversal considering that APS spent nearly $40 million to fight a 2018 ballot proposition that would have required 50 percent renewables by 2030.

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Alphabet delivers wireless Internet over light beams from 20km away

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 12:29pm
A wireless communication terminal on the rooftop of a large building in Kenya.

Enlarge / Piloting Taara’s wireless optical communication links in Kenya. (credit: Allphabet)

Alphabet will soon deliver wireless Internet over light beams in Kenya using a technology that can cover distances of up to 20km. Alphabet's Project Taara, unveiled under a different name in 2017, conducted a series of pilots in Kenya last year and is now partnering with a telecom company to deliver Internet access in remote parts of Africa.

Kenya will get the technology first, with other countries in sub-Saharan Africa to follow. Project Taara General Manager Mahesh Krishnaswamy described the project in an announcement from Alphabet today:

Project Taara is now working with Econet and its subsidiaries, Liquid Telecom and Econet Group, to expand and enhance affordable, high-speed Internet to communities across their networks in Sub-Saharan Africa. Taara's links will begin rolling out across Liquid Telecom's networks in Kenya first, and will help provide high-speed connectivity in places where it's challenging to lay fiber cables, or where deploying fiber might be too costly or dangerous—for example over rivers, across national parks, or in post-conflict zones.

Like fiber, without cables
Illustration of a Project Taara terminal delivering Internet access from a tall building to a remote area.

Illustration of a Project Taara terminal delivering Internet access from a tall building to a remote area. (credit: Alphabet)

Similar to fiber-optic cables, Taara's technology uses light to transmit data, but without the cables. Krishnaswamy continued:

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macOS 11 Big Sur launches on November 12

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 11:43am

Today, Apple announced that macOS 11 Big Sur will launch on all supported devices on November 12. The operating system update was first announced at the company's annual developer conference in June and has been working its way through various phases of beta testing since.

Big Sur primarily lays the groundwork for Apple Silicon-based Macs. Apple says the update has been designed to maximize the performance of the company's new M1 system-on-a-chip and that the combination will make it possible to run iOS and iPadOS apps natively on M1-equipped Macs, though iOS/iPadOS developers will be able to opt out of that if they choose.

Big Sur introduces a notable visual redesign for the user interface and many apps, including an iOS- and iPadOS-like notification center panel on the desktop. Some parts of Big Sur, like a new version of Safari, have already been released to users running Catalina.

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Apple dishes details on its new M1 chip

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 11:38am

(credit: Apple)

Apple's "One More Thing" event is all about Macs. Here's the scoop on Apple's latest chip, the M1, which is the first ARM-based computer chip the company is making in-house.

The M1 is the first computer chip built on a 5nm process with 16 billion transistors. Optimized for Apple's lower-power systems with minimal size and maximum efficiency, there are four performance cores and four efficiency cores in the CPU. Pound for pound, Apple says it has the highest CPU performance per watt, and the four efficiency cores alone match the performance of a dual-core MacBook Air while using much less power. This should contribute to longer battery life and better efficiency in low-power tasks like checking emails, for instance.

The GPU has eight cores and can process up to 2.6 teraflops. In concert with the 16-core neural engine, which is capable of 11 trillion processes per second, Apple says apps like Garage Band can handle three times more instruments and effect plugins, while Final Cut Pro, for instance, can render complex timelines up to six-times faster. Compared to "previous-generation Macs," Apple says the M1 delivers "up to 3.5x faster CPU performance, up to 6x faster GPU performance, and up to 15x faster machine learning" with up to double the battery life.

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Apple announces new M1 Mac Mini, starting at $699

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 11:37am

Apple's M1-filled announcement flurry on Tuesday included a serious surprise for Mac enthusiasts: a brand-new Mac Mini model, starting at $699. Orders begin today, with Mac Minis being available "next week."

The tiny new desktop model comes packed with an 8-core M1 chip, which Apple says will deliver three times the CPU performance compared to the prior quad-core base Mac Mini model. (How that compares to the last model's upgrade option to a 6-core processor remains to be seen.) Apple's representatives say it's one-tenth the size of a comparable PC in its price range, while also running "five times faster" than the same PC in question. (What PC model or manufacturer are you talking about, Apple?)

All Mac Mini M1 models will include Wi-Fi 6, GigaBit Ethernet, an HDMI 2.0 jack, two USB Type-A ports, and two ports that double as Thunderbolt and USB Type-C 4.0 connections. You'll need the latter to max out the new Mac Mini's maximum resolution threshold of "up to two displays, including Apple’s Pro Display XDR in full 6K resolution." (Oh, and will you look at that: there's a 3.5mm headphone jack for your favorite desktop speakers.)

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First ARM-based Mac laptops: MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 11:28am
Promotional image of new laptop.

The new Macbook Air with M1 is a 13", completely fanless and silent design. (credit: Apple)

After 15 years shipping Mac computers with Intel processors, Apple has announced details about its first Mac to forgo Intel CPUs in favor of Apple-designed, ARM-based chips dubbed Apple Silicon. Apple announced that the first Apple Silicon Mac will be the 13-inch, $999 Macbook Air with M1, a completely fanless and silent design.

The new Macbook Air will feature the Apple M1 CPU, which is the latest in a line of higher-performance ARM CPUs introduced with the iPad Pro. M1 is a an eight-core CPU built on a 5nm process design, and it features unified memory architecture offering high-bandwidth, low-latency memory access. Of its eight cores, four are higher performance aimed at demanding foreground tasks, and four are lower-power, higher-efficiency units designed to complete less-demanding background tasks at a decreased power and thermal cost.

Apple says that the M1 offers the highest performance per watt, with double the performance of an x86 laptop CPU when running at 10 watts—and one quarter the power draw of an x86 laptop CPU at higher performance levels. M1 also features an eight-core GPU with 128 execution units (EUs). Apple shows a similar performance-per-watt curve for the M1's GPU compared to "the latest PC chip"—but since that latest chip was not specified by name, it's unclear whether that includes Intel's record-breaking Iris Xe graphics, as seen in Tiger Lake laptop CPUs.

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Intel SGX defeated yet again—this time thanks to on-chip power meter

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 11:00am
Intel SGX defeated yet again—this time thanks to on-chip power meter

Enlarge

Researchers have devised a new way to remotely steal cryptographic keys from Intel CPUs, even when the CPUs run software guard extensions, the in-silicon protection that’s supposed to create a trusted enclave that’s impervious to such attacks.

PLATYPUS, as the researchers are calling the attack, uses a novel vector to open one of the most basic side channels, a form of exploit that uses physical characteristics to infer secrets stored inside a piece of hardware. Whereas most power side channels require physical access so attackers can measure the consumption of electricity, PLATYPUS can do so remotely by abusing the Running Average Power Limit. Abbreviated as RAPL, this Intel interface lets users monitor and control the energy flowing through CPUs and memory.

Leaking keys and a whole lot more

An international team of researchers on Tuesday is disclosing a way to use RAPL to observe enough clues about the instructions and data flowing through a CPU to infer values that it loads. Using PLATYPUS, the researchers can leak crypto keys from SGX enclaves and the operating system, break the exploit mitigation known as Address Space Layout Randomization, and establish a covert channel for secretly exfiltrating data. Chips starting with Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture are vulnerable.

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Apple’s AirPods Pro are on sale for $194 today, the lowest price we’ve seen

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 10:46am
A selection of today's top deals.

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Today's Dealmaster is headlined by a new discount on the AirPods Pro, as Apple's true wireless earphones are currently down to $194 at Amazon and other retailers. Though we've seen a number of deals that have steadily dropped the AirPods Pro's price in recent months, today's discount marks the best price we've seen to date on new models. It's about $30 off the typical street price we've seen online as of late, $55 off Apple's MSRP, and $5 below the price we saw on Amazon Prime Day.

While the market for totally wireless noise-cancelling earbuds has expanded over the past few months, we still recommend the AirPods Pro for iPhone users in particular. Their battery life could be better, but they continue to be a comprehensive upgrade over the standard AirPods, with a more universal fit, superior sound, effective noise-cancellation, on-device controls, and a nifty ambient sound mode.

Reports have suggested that Apple could launch a new version of the AirPods Pro later next year, but for now, this is still a good price for a quality pair of high-end wireless headphones. If you have no interest in AirPods, though, we also have deals on the latest Assassin's Creed and Crash Bandicoot games, Xbox gift cards, a number of storage devices, and more. You can take a look at our full deals roundup below.

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Liveblog: All the news from Apple’s “One More Thing” event

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 10:15am
The splash image for Apple's (probably) final event of 2020.

Enlarge / The splash image for Apple's (probably) final event of 2020.

At 10:00am Pacific time (1pm Eastern) on Tuesday, November 10, Apple will hold yet another live event—the third in as many months—to announce new products. This time, the company is expected to reveal the first Macs that will replace Intel processors with Apple Silicon, the company's in-house-designed ARM-based chips.

As with the prior two events, we'll be liveblogging the proceedings right here. Just return to this page before the show starts to see all the updates from Cupertino.

The previous two events announced two new Apple Watch models, a new iPad, and four new iPhones, among other things. But the tagline for this event is "one more thing," suggesting the focus will singularly be on Apple's long-rumored, recently confirmed ARM transition.

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Spencer: Microsoft almost abandoned Xbox brand after the Xbox One launch

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 10:04am
This could have been Microsoft's last game console if things had gone a bit differently at the company in early 2014.

This could have been Microsoft's last game console if things had gone a bit differently at the company in early 2014.

Today Microsoft celebrates the start of its fourth (or fifth?) generation of video game console hardware with the launch of the Xbox Series X/S. But Microsoft Xbox Chief Phil Spencer says the company's gaming efforts almost didn't make it to this point, and Microsoft was considering abandoning the console space just after the 2013 launch of the Xbox One.

In an extensive interview with Shacknews, Spencer looks back a bit at the tumult within Microsoft in general (and the Xbox division in particular) leading up to the Xbox One rollout. The retirement of Xbox President Don Mattrick in July of 2013, just after the Xbox One's troubled E3 debut, left planning for the Xbox One launch "distributed amongst the company in what I would say is a way that wasn't really feasible for Xbox," Spencer said.

With just months to go before launch when Mattrick left, control of the Xbox brand was splintered across three teams: a platform team headed by Marc Whitten; a first-party games team led by Spencer in "another" part of the company; and a separate marketing team that had been "moved out" from the rest of the Xbox planning. "I don't think it was the best move for stability of our launch," Spencer recalled.

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Amazon’s use of marketplace data breaks competition law, EU charges

ArsTechnica - Tue, 11/10/2020 - 9:49am
A sign outside an Amazon warehouse in Germany.

Enlarge / A sign outside an Amazon warehouse in Germany. (credit: Thorsten Wagner | Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Europe's top competition regulator filed charges today against Amazon, alleging that the company has abused its size, position, and access to data to gain an unfair advantage over the competition.

The European Commission's statement of objections against Amazon is centered on the firm's "dual role" in e-commerce, where it is both a retailer and also a platform for third-party retailers. As a platform, Amazon has access to proprietary data about all those other merchants' online business, which it then gathers and uses anticompetitively to get a leg up in its own retail operations, the EU alleges.

This is not just an infrequent or occasional lapse, the EC determined, finding instead that "very large quantities of non-public seller data" are available to Amazon and "flow directly into [Amazon's] automated systems." Amazon then allegedly uses that data to make its own determinations, "to the detriment of the other marketplace sellers."

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