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.

War Stories: How Crash Bandicoot hacked the original PlayStation

ArsTechnica - Sun, 09/05/2021 - 5:45am

Shot by Sean Dacanay, edited by Jeremy Smolik. Click here for transcript.

When you hear the name Crash Bandicoot, you probably think of it as Sony's platformy, mascoty answer to Mario and Sonic. Before getting the full Sony marketing treatment, though, the game was developer Naughty Dog's first attempt at programming a 3D platform game for Sony's brand-new PlayStation. And developing the game in 1994 and 1995—well before the release of Super Mario 64—involved some real technical and game design challenges.

In our latest War Stories video, coder Andy Gavin walks us through a number of the tricks he used to overcome some of those challenges. Those include an advanced virtual memory swapping technique that divided massive (for the time) levels into 64KB chunks. Those chunks could be loaded independently from the slow (but high-capacity) CD drive into the scant 2MB of fast system RAM only when they were needed for Crash's immediate, on-screen environment.

The result allowed for "20 to 30 times" the level of detail of a contemporary game like Tomb Raider, which really shows when you look at the game's environments. Similar dynamic memory management techniques are now pretty standard in open-world video games, and they all owe a debt of gratitude to Gavin's work on Crash Bandicoot as a proof of concept.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

How I saved money on HomeKit smartbulbs with Philips Wiz and a Raspberry Pi

ArsTechnica - Sun, 09/05/2021 - 5:30am
A Philips Wiz bulb and a Raspberry Pi running Homebridge.

Enlarge / A Philips Wiz bulb and a Raspberry Pi running Homebridge. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

The house where my family currently lives is lit primarily by a bunch of ceiling-mounted recessed bulbs. From top to bottom, counting bathroom fixtures, we have something like 40 lightbulbs in the entire house. And when we moved in, every single one of those lightbulbs was a hot, power-sucking incandescent bulb. Replacing those bulbs with cooler, more-efficient LEDs was one of the low-hanging home improvement projects I took on after we moved in.

As part of that project, I lit a couple of rooms with Philips Hue smartbulbs, which did a ton to popularize and simplify customizable LED lighting when they first came out back in 2012. These bulbs plus an Ecobee thermostat formed the foundation of a HomeKit setup, chosen because my wife and I are both iPhone users and we didn't own an Echo or any Google or Nest products at the time. Since then, our smart home has grown in fits and starts, accruing different gadgets here and there and aiming for HomeKit compatibility when we can get it. (I assume lots of smart home setups are like this—stumbled into over time, made up of a patchwork of products that either came with the house or were all bought individually to fill some specific need, all strapped together after the fact by Google, Amazon, or Apple, depending on which of the tech giants has you captured most firmly in its tendrils at the time.)

Fast-forward five years, and I was ready to add smart lighting to more rooms in the house. However, I didn't want to pay Hue prices, especially for the multicolor bulbs—a 60W equivalent white Hue bulb normally runs about $15, and a full-color bulb costs between $30 and $50 a pop. A company called meross makes an appealing HomeKit-compatible multicolor bulb for around $15, but middling customer reviews (and a dearth of professional reviews) made me hesitate.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Why ransomware hackers love a holiday weekend

ArsTechnica - Sun, 09/05/2021 - 4:00am
Two women pull suitcases as they walk down a sidewalk.

Enlarge / Gah, don't you miss unstressed travel? (credit: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images)

On the Friday heading into Memorial Day weekend this year, it was meat-processing giant JBS. On the Friday before the Fourth of July, it was IT-management software company Kaseya and, by extension, over a thousand businesses of varying size. It remains to be seen whether Labor Day will see a high-profile ransomware meltdown as well, but one thing is clear: hackers love holidays.

Really, ransomware hackers love regular weekends, too. But a long one? When everyone’s off carousing with family and friends and studiously avoiding anything remotely office-related? That’s the good stuff. And while the trend isn’t new, a joint warning issued this week by the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency underscores how serious the threat has become.

The appeal to attackers is pretty straightforward. Ransomware can take time to propagate throughout a network, as hackers work to escalate privileges for maximum control over the most systems. The longer it takes for anyone to notice, the more damage they can do. “Generally speaking, the threat actors deploy their ransomware when there is less likelihood of people being around to start pulling plugs,” says Brett Callow, threat analyst at antivirus company Emsisoft. “The less chance of the attack being detected and interrupted.”

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How a flight-sim cockpit helps me get away from it all (figuratively)

ArsTechnica - Sat, 09/04/2021 - 7:00am
Photograph of an Obutto R3volution cockpit with accessories

Enlarge / The Obutto R3v that sits in the corner of Lee's office. The two little dark plastic tray-looking things on swing arms are exactly that and are a great help for both scribbling notes and also holding food and beverages. (credit: Lee Hutchinson)

One of the great things about working from home is that you have a lot of freedom to set your home office up just the way you like it, whether you're perfecting your PC setup to make it more comfortable for long days of Zoom meetings or buying weird niche gaming accessories for after-hours fun. Now that he's back around the Orbital HQ, Ars Senior Technology Reporter Andrew Cunningham is interviewing Ars staffers about the gadgets they use to put the "home" into "home office," starting with Senior Technology Editor Lee Hutchinson and his intricate flight-sim setup.

What’s the thing on your desk/part of your setup/etc that you want to tell me about?

I think it’d be the Obutto R3volution cockpit.

Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Mad God: What happens when the best practical VFX artist, ever, writes a film?

ArsTechnica - Sat, 09/04/2021 - 5:00am

A teaser for Mad God.

By now, anyone who would agree to the label of "film fan" knows the legendary Phil Tippett. Perhaps the greatest visual effects artist of the last 50 years (if not ever), Tippett brought to life the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park and the creatures of Star Wars while also enriching many, many stellar visual feasts like RoboCop, Willow, and Starship Troopers. Heck, Starship Troopers producer Jon Davison has famously said he did that film for one reason: "I wanted to do a movie with Phil Tippett. I wanted to do a giant bug movie with Phil Tippett."

Despite his lengthy, award-riddled career, one filmmaking feat had eluded Tippett until this year—being the writer/director of a feature film. Tippett has finally crossed that goal off the list, too, with the arrival of Mad God on the festival scene (including its North American premiere at Fantasia Fest last month).

Tippett has apparently had the visions and ideas behind Mad God for three decades. But this passion project perennially remained on the back burner as he took on all those highly, highly successful commercial projects. This creative struggle has been chronicled somewhat in two documentaries, the career-retrospective Phil Tippet—Mad Dreams and Monsters and the Mad God behind-the-scenes project Worse Than the Demon (which his daughter Maya directed for her undergrad thesis). Recently, the VFX legend told The Observer he started working on Mad God after RoboCop 2, which means this dates back to 1990. (About three minutes of work on 35 mm from then made it to 2021).

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

PAX-demic West impressions: Creating fun out of thin, masked air

ArsTechnica - Sat, 09/04/2021 - 4:00am

SEATTLE—From the ongoing wreckage of a variant-riddled pandemic comes... a modest, regional, and relatively fun nerd convention.

My perspective on PAX West, arguably the largest Northwest expo dedicated to gaming culture, is biased by the lines, crowds, and hype I've seen at every incarnation since its first downtown Seattle sellout in 2007. Back then, the show was firmly attached to the webcomic Penny Arcade, which is also a Seattle creation. But the expo's reputation grew quickly, and it become a multiday, multibuilding extravaganza. Ever since, the fest has been increasingly divorced from its comic origins, and the PAX model has been officially duplicated and been liberally borrowed in other regions.

Recently, of course, a little worldwide dilemma got in the way.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

In 8 US states, Apple will begin storing driver’s licenses on the iPhone

ArsTechnica - Fri, 09/03/2021 - 2:34pm

Apple is rolling out the ability to add driver's licenses and state IDs to the Wallet app on the iPhone and Apple Watch in select US states, the company announced this week.

The first states to introduce this functionality will be Arizona and Georgia, but Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah will follow. However, neither the states nor Apple have said exactly when the rollouts will begin other than giving a general fall 2021 target.

Wallet is an app that comes pre-installed on iPhones and Apple Watch wearables. The app stores credit cards, boarding passes, student IDs, and other items you might normally put in a physical wallet.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

GoDaddy boots Texas abortion “whistleblower” site for violating privacy rule

ArsTechnica - Fri, 09/03/2021 - 1:53pm
US and Texas flags in front of the Texas state capitol building.

Enlarge / The Texas state capitol. (credit: Getty Images | Bo Zaunders)

The Texas Right to Life group will have to find a new hosting provider for its website that encourages people to report violations of the state's restrictive new anti-abortion law.

GoDaddy took action after Gizmodo reported that Texas Right to Life's new website, prolifewhistleblower.com, seems to violate a GoDaddy rule that says website operators may not "collect or harvest (or permit anyone else to collect or harvest) any User Content or any non-public or personally identifiable information about another user or any other person or entity without their express prior written consent." GoDaddy's terms of service also say that customers cannot use the web hosting platform in a way that "[v]iolates the privacy or publicity rights of another User or any other person or entity, or breaches any duty of confidentiality that you owe to another User or any other person or entity."

GoDaddy now says that the website has less than 24 hours to find a new hosting provider. "Last night we informed prolifewhistleblower.com they have violated GoDaddy's terms of service and have 24 hours to move to a different provider," GoDaddy told Ars in a statement. GoDaddy previously confirmed the action to The New York Times and Newsweek.

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DeSantis still fights masks—despite COVID surge, court loss, expert advice, etc.

ArsTechnica - Fri, 09/03/2021 - 11:38am
A protester holds a placard outside an emergency meeting of the Brevard County, Florida School Board in Viera to discuss whether face masks in local schools should be mandatory.

Enlarge / A protester holds a placard outside an emergency meeting of the Brevard County, Florida School Board in Viera to discuss whether face masks in local schools should be mandatory. (credit: Getty | SOPA Images)

As Florida's stratospheric COVID-19 surge continues, Governor Ron DeSantis has appealed a judge's ruling last week that overturned the governor's ban on mask mandates in schools. The judge determined that DeSantis' ban didn't "meet constitutional muster."

In a notice of appeal filed Thursday, DeSanitis' lawyers claimed that the appeal should trigger an automatic stay, keeping the governor's mask mandate ban in place for now until the appeal is heard. However, as CNN reports, parents from six Florida counties have already filed an emergency notice to vacate the stay.

At least 13 school districts in Florida have already opted to institute school mask mandates, bucking the governor's legally imperiled ban.

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Reports of Pixel 3s bricking with “EDL” message are growing

ArsTechnica - Fri, 09/03/2021 - 10:23am

A growing number of Pixel 3 and 3 XL users say their phones are dying an early death. For months, reports have been piling up on Google's issue tracker, support forums, and Reddit, all saying basically the same thing: one day, the phones suddenly stop working and become completely unresponsive. The phones can't boot into Android and will only show a Qualcomm recovery mode called "Emergency Download (EDL) mode."

The phones that display EDL mode are completely useless bricks. Some Googlers in the support thread are asking for Android-generated bug reports, which collect a ton of diagnostic data about running processes. But users can't submit those reports, because the phones won't boot into Android. The normal tricks used to flash a fresh version of Android onto the devices won't work, as users can't get out of EDL mode and into the normal bootloader, where they can use the standard recommended flashing tools like "fastboot" or Google's slick, new browser-based Android Flash Tool.

EDL mode is rarely used in the Android hacking and recovery scene, but it's meant for recovery, presumably before any of the standard Android boot and recovery chain gets loaded onto the phone. When plugged into a PC, phones in EDL mode will identify as "QUSB_BULK_CID," followed by a serial number. The PC software that communicates with EDL mode is called "QPST," or the "Qualcomm Product Support Tool," and could theoretically attempt to flash a new copy of Android onto the Pixel 3, assuming you could get the full NAND image in the right format. Google admirably provides dozens of Pixel 3 system images for download, but they're meant for the normal Android flashing tools, not QPST.

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Amid backlash, Apple will change photo-scanning plan but won’t drop it completely

ArsTechnica - Fri, 09/03/2021 - 7:09am
Close-up shot of female finger scrolling on smartphone screen in a dark environment.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Oscar Wong)

Apple said Friday that it will make some changes to its plan to have iPhones and other devices scan user photos for child sexual-abuse images. But Apple said it still intends to implement the system after making "improvements" to address criticisms.

Apple provided this statement to Ars and other news organizations today:

Last month we announced plans for features intended to help protect children from predators who use communication tools to recruit and exploit them, and limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material [CSAM]. Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others, we have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features.

The statement is vague and doesn't say what kinds of changes Apple will make or even what kinds of advocacy groups and researchers it will collect input from. But given the backlash Apple has received from security researchers, privacy advocates, and customers concerned about privacy, it seems likely that Apple will try to address concerns about user privacy and the possibility that Apple could give governments broader access to customers' photos.

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Too much of a good thing: Mourning the slow death of the retail game store

ArsTechnica - Fri, 09/03/2021 - 4:45am

When I was a kid, buying video games was an incredibly stressful process. In the late '80s, I was too young to buy magazines to find out what games deserved my hard-earned pocket-money. So, in an experience all too familiar to many millennial gamers, I used my (poor) intuition to look at the box art to decide what to bring home.

At the time, a console title cost something in the realm of $100 in today's dollars (or over €85-95), which made each game purchase an investment requiring long consideration and thoughtful planning. At that price, every game needed to last weeks, if not months, to justify the investment. Most games achieved this with the good old “Nintendo-hard” philosophy: Brutal challenges make a relative dearth of original content last longer.

In those days, buying a game felt like being given rare access to a magical kingdom, paying a dear price for access behind golden gates instead of trying to catch a glimpse from the outside. Getting a game was an all-too-sacred ritual involving a mystical and intimate relationship with store owners who, on average, were just interested in duping naive children into buying whatever leftover stock the store had lying around.

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Rocket Report: Alpha launches and then blows up, ULA to stop selling Atlas V

ArsTechnica - Fri, 09/03/2021 - 4:00am
An ascending rocket leaves flame and smoke in its wake.

Enlarge / China may use a modified version of its Long March 5 rocket for lunar missions. (credit: Luo Yunfei/China News Service via Getty Images)

Welcome to Edition 4.14 of the Rocket Report! Lots of drama this week as Astra's launch suffered an engine failure during its most recent spaceflight, Virgin Galactic nearly had to abort its high-profile mission in July, and Firefly got its first Alpha rocket off the launch pad.

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

Firefly makes first launch attempt. On Thursday, Firefly Aerospace launched its first Alpha rocket just before 7 pm local time from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, and the initial moments of the flight appeared to be nominal. But then there was a delay in reaching supersonic velocity, and at 2 minutes 31 seconds into flight Alpha exploded. "Alpha experienced an anomaly during first-stage ascent that resulted in the loss of the vehicle. As we gather more information, additional details will be provided," the company said Thursday night.

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Next-Gen Cyberpunk 2077 and Witcher 3 still coming 2021… CDPR thinks

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/02/2021 - 5:23pm
Promotional image from video game Cyberpunk 2077.

Enlarge (credit: CD Projekt RED)

CD Projekt Red is still pushing to release next-gen versions of Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher 3 in 2021—or so the developer hopes.

As CDPR mothership CD Projekt Group held its H1 2021 financial earnings presentation with investors this week, it put its ongoing support for Cyberpunk front and center. The company's public report highlights the high number of patches and hotfix additions added to the game since launch, improved performance across platforms, and Cyberpunk's recent re-addition to the PlayStation Store after Sony pulled the title from its digital storefronts in December. The incremental experience fans have been getting, the report suggests, is slowly improving.

Joint CEO Adam Kiciński even reiterated during the presentation that continued improvements to Cyberpunk will be the company's top-priority for "as long as it takes." (He also noted that, despite its myriad issues, the game was the leading revenue driver for CDPR in the first half of 2021.)

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Shang-Chi film review: Marvel’s latest grabs the brass ring—all ten of them

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/02/2021 - 4:05pm

This film review originally ran on August 23, 2021, to coincide with its press embargo being lifted. We are bringing it back in light of its wide release on Friday, September 3—and unlike other recent Disney/Marvel films, this film has launched as a theatrical exclusive.

If you want to know what direction Marvel's post-Avengers superhero films are going, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a pretty clear indicator—and it's an optimistic one at that.

I had a blast watching Shang-Chi, which arrives exclusively in theaters on Friday, September 3, and I spent most of the time after my screening wishing for more. It could have been longer. Maybe there's a director's cut. Or, maybe this is the darned good launch of an entirely new film franchise, and this film is merely meant to set up the even more fully rounded sequel(s). Whatever the case, that's a decidedly better way to leave theaters than being bored, annoyed, or otherwise shaken out of a good moviegoing experience by bad writing, acting, and directing decisions.

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A brief overview of IBM’s new 7 nm Telum mainframe CPU

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/02/2021 - 3:45pm
Each Telum package consists of two 7nm, eight-core / sixteen-thread processors running at a <em>base</em> clock speed above 5GHz. A typical system will have sixteen of these chips in total, arranged in four-socket "drawers."

Enlarge / Each Telum package consists of two 7nm, eight-core / sixteen-thread processors running at a base clock speed above 5GHz. A typical system will have sixteen of these chips in total, arranged in four-socket "drawers." (credit: IBM)

From the perspective of a traditional x86 computing enthusiast—or professional—mainframes are strange, archaic beasts. They're physically enormous, power-hungry, and expensive by comparison to more traditional data-center gear, generally offering less compute per rack at a higher cost.

This raises the question, "Why keep using mainframes, then?" Once you hand-wave the cynical answers that boil down to "because that's how we've always done it," the practical answers largely come down to reliability and consistency. As AnandTech's Ian Cutress points out in a speculative piece focused on the Telum's redesigned cache, "downtime of these [IBM Z] systems is measured in milliseconds per year." (If true, that's at least seven nines.)

IBM's own announcement of the Telum hints at just how different mainframe and commodity computing's priorities are. It casually describes Telum's memory interface as "capable of tolerating complete channel or DIMM failures, and designed to transparently recover data without impact to response time."

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Apple’s AR headset will leave a lot of the hard work to the iPhone

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/02/2021 - 3:15pm
A tree-lined campus surrounds a multistory glass and steel building.

Enlarge / Apple offices in northern California. (credit: Apple)

Apple's long-rumored mixed-reality headset will require an iPhone within wireless range to function for at least some apps and experiences, according to a new report in The Information.

The Information's sources say that Apple completed work on the system-on-a-chip (SoC) for the headset "last year" and that the physical designs for that and two other chips intended for the device have been completed. Apple has also finished designing the device's display driver and image sensor.

The SoC will be based on TSMC's five-nanometer manufacturing process, which is current now but may not be when the headset releases in 2022 or later.

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The FAA grounds Virgin Galactic’s spaceship after flight deviation

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/02/2021 - 2:46pm
Images from the flight of VSS Unity.

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

The Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday said it has grounded Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo vehicle until the agency completes an investigation into the vehicle's flight outside its designated air space.

"Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety," the aviation agency said in a statement.

The statement follows a report on Wednesday that the spacecraft, carrying Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson and three other passengers, flew outside of its designated airspace over New Mexico for 1 minute and 42 seconds on July 11.

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Cosmic indigestion: Swallowing a neutron star can cause a star to explode

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/02/2021 - 1:29pm
Diagram of a shell of material with a bright point in the middle.

Enlarge / A model of the supernova exploding inside a torus of gas ejected years earlier. (credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

One of the stranger features of our Universe is the existence of what you might call "dual-core stars." Many stars exist as part of a multistar system, and in some cases, their orbits are extremely close. Couple that with the fact that stars can expand as they age, and you get a situation in which the outer edges of one star may engulf a second. Friction can then draw the stars' orbits closer, resulting in the core of both stars orbiting within a large, shared envelope of plasma.

Things can get more complicated still when you consider that the stars won't necessarily have life cycles that line up well—one of them could easily explode before the other, leaving behind a black hole or a neutron star. That can lead to some bizarre situations, like a star that replaces its core with a neutron star.

Now, researchers say they have probably found a more violent alternative to that merger. In this case, the neutron star didn't settle neatly into the core of its companion star. Instead, the companion star lost its outer layers to space and then saw its core disrupted in a way that caused it to explode.

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Apple will let video and music apps—but not games—link to other payment options

ArsTechnica - Thu, 09/02/2021 - 12:50pm
The app icons for Spotify, Netflix, and Podcasts on an iPhone screen.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | stockcam)

Apple has made another concession related to its restrictive App Store rules, saying that it will let several types of media apps link to their own websites, where users can purchase subscriptions without Apple getting its usual commission. Apple was forced to make the change to settle an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC). The change will take effect in early 2022, Apple said in an announcement yesterday.

"The update will allow developers of 'reader' apps to include an in-app link to their website for users to set up or manage an account," Apple said. "While the agreement was made with the JFTC, Apple will apply this change globally to all reader apps on the store. Reader apps provide previously purchased content or content subscriptions for digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, and video."

The JFTC issued a statement saying that the planned change "would eliminate" Apple's suspected violations of Japan's Antimonopoly Act. The regulator said it "decided to close the investigation on this case after the JFTC confirms the measure has been taken."

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