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.

Movie written by algorithm turns out to be hilarious and intense

ArsTechnica - Sun, 05/30/2021 - 8:55am

Sunspring, a short science fiction movie written entirely by AI, debuted exclusively on Ars in June 2016. (video link)

Ars is excited to be hosting this online debut of Sunspring, a short science fiction film that's not entirely what it seems. It's about three people living in a weird future, possibly on a space station, probably in a love triangle. You know it's the future because H (played with neurotic gravity by Silicon Valley's Thomas Middleditch) is wearing a shiny gold jacket, H2 (Elisabeth Gray) is playing with computers, and C (Humphrey Ker) announces that he has to "go to the skull" before sticking his face into a bunch of green lights. It sounds like your typical sci-fi B-movie, complete with an incoherent plot. Except Sunspring isn't the product of Hollywood hacks—it was written entirely by an AI. To be specific, it was authored by a recurrent neural network called long short-term memory, or LSTM for short. At least, that's what we'd call it. The AI named itself Benjamin.

Knowing that an AI wrote Sunspring makes the movie more fun to watch, especially once you know how the cast and crew put it together. Director Oscar Sharp made the movie for Sci-Fi London, an annual film festival that includes the 48-Hour Film Challenge, where contestants are given a set of prompts (mostly props and lines) that have to appear in a movie they make over the next two days. Sharp's longtime collaborator, Ross Goodwin, is an AI researcher at New York University, and he supplied the movie's AI writer, initially called Jetson. As the cast gathered around a tiny printer, Benjamin spat out the screenplay, complete with almost impossible stage directions like "He is standing in the stars and sitting on the floor." Then Sharp randomly assigned roles to the actors in the room. "As soon as we had a read-through, everyone around the table was laughing their heads off with delight," Sharp told Ars. The actors interpreted the lines as they read, adding tone and body language, and the results are what you see in the movie. Somehow, a slightly garbled series of sentences became a tale of romance and murder, set in a dark future world. It even has its own musical interlude (performed by Andrew and Tiger), with a pop song Benjamin composed after learning from a corpus of 30,000 other pop songs.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The SolarWinds hackers aren’t back—they never went away

ArsTechnica - Sun, 05/30/2021 - 5:45am
"And people reliably click on these emails? Really?"

Enlarge / "And people reliably click on these emails? Really?" (credit: Kremlin official photo)

The Russian hackers who breached SolarWinds IT management software to compromise a slew of United States government agencies and businesses are back in the limelight. Microsoft said on Thursday that the same “Nobelium” spy group has built out an aggressive phishing campaign since January of this year and ramped it up significantly this week, targeting roughly 3,000 individuals at more than 150 organizations in 24 countries.

The revelation caused a stir, highlighting as it did Russia's ongoing and inveterate digital espionage campaigns. But it should be no shock at all that Russia in general, and the SolarWinds hackers in particular, have continued to spy even after the US imposed retaliatory sanctions in April. And relative to SolarWinds, a phishing campaign seems downright ordinary.

“I don’t think it’s an escalation, I think it’s business as usual,” says John Hultquist, vice president of intelligence analysis at the security firm FireEye, which first discovered the SolarWinds intrusions. “I don’t think they’re deterred and I don’t think they’re likely to be deterred.”

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Deepfake maps could really mess with your sense of the world

ArsTechnica - Sun, 05/30/2021 - 5:15am
Extreme close-up photograph of a road map.

Enlarge / A macro shot of the city of Seattle, Washington, on a map. (credit: Getty Images)

Satellite images showing the expansion of large detention camps in Xinjiang, China, between 2016 and 2018 provided some of the strongest evidence of a government crackdown on more than a million Muslims, triggering international condemnation and sanctions.

Other aerial images—of nuclear installations in Iran and missile sites in North Korea, for example—have had a similar impact on world events. Now, image-manipulation tools made possible by artificial intelligence may make it harder to accept such images at face value.

In a paper published online last month, University of Washington professor Bo Zhao employed AI techniques similar to those used to create so-called deepfakes to alter satellite images of several cities. Zhao and colleagues swapped features between images of Seattle and Beijing to show buildings where there are none in Seattle and to remove structures and replace them with greenery in Beijing.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Heads up! The cardiovascular secrets of giraffes

ArsTechnica - Sun, 05/30/2021 - 4:45am
A full-grown giraffe is out of focus behind a baby giraffe.

Enlarge / Three-month baby giraffe of Niger (Giraffa camelopardalis) named "Kano" looks on at the zoological park Zoo de la Fleche in La Fleche, northwestern France, on May 4, 2021. (credit: Jean-Francois MONIER / AFP / Getty Images)

To most people, giraffes are merely adorable, long-necked animals that rank near the top of a zoo visit or a photo-safari bucket list. But to a cardiovascular physiologist, there’s even more to love. Giraffes, it turns out, have solved a problem that kills millions of people every year: high blood pressure. Their solutions, only partly understood by scientists so far, involve pressurized organs, altered heart rhythms, blood storage—and the biological equivalent of support stockings.

Giraffes have sky-high blood pressure because of their sky-high heads that, in adults, rise about six meters (almost 20 feet) above the ground—a long, long way for a heart to pump blood against gravity. To have a blood pressure of 110/70 at the brain—about normal for a large mammal—giraffes need a blood pressure at the heart of about 220/180. It doesn’t faze the giraffes, but a pressure like that would cause all sorts of problems for people, from heart failure to kidney failure to swollen ankles and legs.

In people, chronic high blood pressure causes a thickening of the heart muscles. The left ventricle of the heart becomes stiffer and less able to fill again after each stroke, leading to a disease known as diastolic heart failure, characterized by fatigue, shortness of breath and reduced ability to exercise. This type of heart failure is responsible for nearly half of the 6.2 million heart failure cases in the US today.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Amazon devices will soon automatically share your Internet with neighbors

ArsTechnica - Sat, 05/29/2021 - 12:10pm
Cartoonish promotional image for Amazon product.

Enlarge (credit: Amazon)

If you use Alexa, Echo, or many other Amazon devices, you have only 10 days until you're opted in to an experiment that leaves your personal privacy and security hanging in the balance.

On June 8, the merchant, Web host, and entertainment behemoth will automatically enroll the devices in Amazon Sidewalk. The new wireless mesh service will share a small slice of your Internet bandwidth with neighboring Sidewalk-capable devices that don’t have connectivity. Sidewalk will also help your Amazon devices to a sliver of bandwidth from other Sidewalk users when you don’t have a connection.

By default, a variety of Amazon devices will enroll in the system come June 8. And since only a tiny fraction of people take the time to change default settings, that means millions of people will be co-opted into the program whether they know anything about it or not. The Amazon webpage linked above says Sidewalk "is currently only available in the US." The full list of devices that can act as Sidewalk bridges is Ring Floodlight Cam (2019), Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019), Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019), Echo (3rd gen and newer), Echo Dot (3rd gen and newer), Echo Dot for Kids (3rd gen and newer), Echo Dot with Clock (3rd gen and newer), Echo Plus (all generations), Echo Show (all models and generations), Echo Spot, Echo Studio, Echo Input, and Echo Flex.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ancient cemetery tells a tale of constant, low-level warfare

ArsTechnica - Sat, 05/29/2021 - 8:45am
Ancient cemetery tells a tale of constant, low-level warfare

Enlarge (credit: Crevecoeur and Antoine 2021)

When archaeologists in the 1960s unearthed a 13,400-year-old cemetery at Jebel Sahaba in Sudan, it looked like they’d stumbled across the aftermath of a large-scale battle fought during the Pleistocene. At least half the people buried at the site, which straddles the banks of the Upper Nile, bore the marks of violence: broken skulls, arrow and spear tracks gouged in bones, and stone projectiles still embedded in their bodies.

The site now lies at the bottom of the human-made Lake Nasser, created by the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s. But the remains now reside in the British Museum’s collection (for better or worse), and anthropologists Isabelle Crevecoeur of the University of Bordeaux and Daniel Antoine of the British Museum recently re-examined the skeletons. With more modern microscope technology, the anthropologists noticed some skeletal trauma that the original archaeologists had missed. It turned out that about two thirds of the population of the ancient cemetery had bones damaged by either blunt-force trauma or—most often—by projectiles like spears and arrows. That included three out of four adults and roughly half the children.

Since the 1960s, archaeologists have thought of Jebel Sahaba as the earliest example of large-scale warfare between groups of people. But despite all the evidence of violence, the bones of the 13,000-year-old dead don’t actually seem to tell the story of a pitched battle with massive casualties. Instead, it looks like people along the Upper Nile Valley at the end of the Pleistocene lived with the constant threat of smaller-scale fighting, which affected men, women, and children alike. If you’re a gamer, think of it as living in a PvP zone in the midst of an environmental crisis.

Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Stardew Valley: The Board Game—a loving production but a mixed review from Grandpa

ArsTechnica - Sat, 05/29/2021 - 8:00am
 The Board Game—a loving production but a mixed review from Grandpa

Enlarge (credit: Charles Theel)

Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com.

Stardew Valley: The Board Game was a surprise February announcement. Somehow this colorful collaboration between Cole Medeiros and Stardew Valley's sole developer Eric Barone was kept hush-hush for two years. When it was finally announced, it sold out quickly.

Given the long development time and the obvious demand, expectations were high for this cardboard adaptation to deliver on its potential. Unfortunately, there’s a few sticks and crumpled refuse mixed in with the game's gifts of starfruit and ore.

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Trinitite: The radioactive rock buried in New Mexico before the Atari games

ArsTechnica - Sat, 05/29/2021 - 5:35am
Trinitite specimens.

Trinitite specimens. (credit: mseery)

Update, 5/29/21: It's Memorial Day weekend in the US, and staff are trying to stay away from the keyboard accordingly. As such, we're resurfacing a few classic pieces from our archives. This one originally ran on September 1, 2014 and details a long weekend-appropriate road trip adventure to come face-to-face with an artifact of past military activity.

Four months ago in April 2014, Ars Technica sent me out to Alamogordo, New Mexico to be present at the unearthing of a landfill that was long-rumored to hold a trove of Atari games, dumped at the site after the video game crash of 1983. As I was preparing for the trip, my coworkers and I chatted about the event in the editors' IRC channel.

”When you’re hanging out in the trash dump be sure to look out for Trinitite,” automotive editor Jonathan Gitlin told me.

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Rewilding: Four tips to let nature thrive

ArsTechnica - Sat, 05/29/2021 - 4:45am
The sun shines through the treetops in the Arnsberg forest in Germany.

Enlarge / The sun shines through the treetops in the Arnsberg forest in Germany. (credit: Guido Kirchner/picture alliance via Getty Images)

What would rewilding mean for a country like the UK? Bringing back wolves and bears? Returning the land to how it looked in prehistoric times? How will people fit into this wild and unimaginably different place? Questions like these abound whenever rewilding is in the news.

In essence, rewilding involves giving more space and time to nature. Instead of managing ecosystems to preserve particular species, rewilding is intended to reverse environmental decline by letting nature become more self-willed. That means allowing wildlife the freedom to flourish and habitats to regenerate naturally.

But without clear principles to guide these processes, rewilding has become a trendy buzzword that is often used indiscriminately. This has invited wildly different interpretations, sparked debates, and caused controversy that has discouraged governments from developing it into policy.

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NASA budget goes all-in on science, stays the course on Moon lander

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 2:42pm
NASA's proposed Mars Sample Return mission received funding in the budget request to support a 2026 launch.

Enlarge / NASA's proposed Mars Sample Return mission received funding in the budget request to support a 2026 launch. (credit: NASA)

As part of the federal budget rollout on Friday, NASA released details of the funding it hopes to receive from Congress in fiscal year 2022.

The president's budget request seeks $24.8 billion for the coming fiscal year, a nearly 7 percent increase over the $23.3 billion in funding NASA received for the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30. Congress will ultimately decide funding levels, of course, but this budget request is indicative of White House priorities.

The Biden Administration has placed a strong emphasis on science during its first four months, and that focus is reflected in this budget request. The White House is seeking $7.9 billion for NASA's science programs, including Earth science and missions to explore the Moon and other planets. This represents a nearly 9 percent increase over last year's budget for science programs, with Earth science and planetary science receiving the most significant increases.

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AT&T/Verizon lobby keeps claiming that home-Internet prices are dropping

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 1:55pm
A rake being used to gather a pile of money on a lawn.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | spxChrome)

US government data shows that home-Internet customers pay more each year and that average broadband expenditures are rising faster than inflation, but cable and telecom lobbies keep claiming that broadband prices are getting lower.

The latest example came Wednesday from USTelecom, which represents AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink/Lumen, Frontier, and other DSL and fiber Internet providers. In a post titled "No Fluke: American Broadband Prices Continue Decline in 2021," the group unveiled the latest version of its Broadband Pricing Index [BPI] that measures prices for residential Internet service.

But instead of measuring the average or median price that all home-Internet customers pay, the group reports the prices of a couple service tiers that it claims are representative of American consumers at large.

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CDC loosened mask guidance to encourage vaccination—it failed spectacularly

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 1:07pm
A thrown-away surgical mask lays on the ground.

Enlarge / A thrown-away surgical mask lays on the ground. (credit: Getty | David Gannon)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stunned health officials and experts on May 13 with the abrupt announcement that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 could forgo masking in most settings—indoor, outdoor, uncrowded, and crowded alike. The guidance was a stark reversal from the health agency’s previous stance, issued just two weeks earlier, that still recommended vaccinated people wear masks among crowds and in many indoor, uncrowded settings.

The CDC said at the time that it was merely following the science for masking. The agency and its director, Rochelle Walensky, highlighted fresh, real-world studies demonstrating COVID-19 vaccines’ high efficacy and ability to lower transmission risks. But the update was also part of an overt effort to encourage vaccination among the vaccine hesitant by emphasizing the perks of being vaccinated—like not needing to wear masks anymore and reclaiming other bits of normal life.

That messaging shift came as states across the country started to see their pace of vaccination slow despite a glut of vaccine doses. Numerous polls have indicated that most of the people eager to get vaccinated already have. Now, with just 62 percent of the US adult population vaccinated, much of the remaining unvaccinated portion is either hesitant or resistant to being vaccinated. It’s that group of people the CDC was trying to reach with the new mask guidance.

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Review: A Quiet Place Part 2 is a worthy sequel that was worth the wait

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 12:40pm

Emily Blunt and Cillian Murphy star in A Quiet Place Part 2, John Krasinski's sequel to the 2018 sci-fi/horror hit film.

It's been a long road for Paramount's A Quiet Place Part 2, the much-anticipated sequel to 2018's surprise sci-fi/horror hit A Quiet Place. Originally slated to hit theaters last March, the sequel even had an official premiere, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced shutdowns all over the country mere days before the planned theatrical release. Paramount and director John Krasinski opted to shelve the movie until theaters reopened rather than releasing it on demand.

A Quiet Place Part 2 is finally here, and it was well worth the wait. It's less of a sequel and more of a continuation of the original story. It retains all the aspects that worked in its predecessor while exploring new themes and character development.

(Spoilers for 2018's A Quiet Place below; mild spoilers for Part 2, but no major reveals.)

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Far Cry 6 gameplay reveal: Ride a horse, pet a dog, set lots of things on fire

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 12:13pm

After a delay from its original March 2021 release date, Ubisoft's Far Cry 6 finally has a bonafide gameplay reveal ahead of its newly confirmed October 7 launch on PCs and consoles.

The Far Cry series continues to ask players to face off against "shades of gray" villains in wide-open, semi-lawless territories. After a brief detour to the United States in 2018's Far Cry 5, the series returns to its jungles-and-islands roots with the fictional Caribbean nation of Yara. (Let's be real—this is pretty much Cuba.) Instead of relying on cut scenes to showcase the striking voice and appearance of new series villain Anton Castillo, portrayed by famed actor Giancarlo Epsosito (Breaking Bad), this trailer goes to great lengths to look like an actual video game.

At first glance, the revealed footage looks like it's from a current-gen console game as played on a PC at max settings. If ray-traced light-bounce models are being used to create an expensive global illumination system, this trailer didn't make that apparent. Light sources look pre-baked, and reflections appear to rely on computationally mild screen-space techniques. Still, wide-open vistas full of lush wildlife and massive explosions seem like they've been cranked to "ultra" levels, so I wonder how this cross-gen game will scale down to run on the PS4 and Xbox One generation.

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Redesigned AirPods are coming soon, report claims

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 11:48am

Apple will release redesigned AirPods in 2021 and follow up with a new version of AirPods Pro in 2022, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Debby Wu, citing people "with knowledge of the matter."

The new AirPods would have shorter stems on each ear, bringing them closer to the look of AirPods Pro. And Apple has been testing an AirPods Pro design that completely lacks the stems. Bloomberg's sources claim that the stem-less design will first appear in Beats headphones that will be announced in June.

The non-Pro AirPods would also have a new case design, and the AirPods Pro would include new motion-sensing technology that would be used for fitness tracking.

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Game Builder Garage hides powerful programming tools behind a cute interface

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 11:03am

The idea of a video game that lets you build other video games is nearly as old as the medium itself, dating back at least to 1983's Pinball Construction Set. More recently, series like Little Big Planet and Dreams have shown just how powerful simple controller-based game creation tools can be, while experiments like Kodu and Project Spark have failed to find the necessary audience to sustain themselves.

Nintendo isn't new to this concept, either—the Mario Maker series and games like WarioWare DIY have given players robust creation tools to play with. But Game Builder Garage is Nintendo's most ambitious effort yet to let its users make games, using a coding-free environment built for the Nintendo Switch.

Meet the Nodons

The basic layout of Game Builder Garage will be familiar to anyone who has used visual programming tools Scratch or the Unreal Engine's Kismet environment. Instead of being built with lines of code, Garage games are made by placing and connecting little colored square beings called Nodons, which sit in the design space and distractingly blink their eyes at you every few seconds.

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Google Photos wants money: Stricter storage limitations kick in next week

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 10:12am
The Google Photos storage management tool.

Enlarge / The Google Photos storage management tool. (credit: Google)

Google Photos would like some of your money.

The service is turning six years old and will kick off its quest for monetization next week, when Google will start getting more restrictive about photo storage limits. The goal is to push users over the 15GB free limit that comes with every Google account so they'll buy more storage via the "Google One" program.

Google Photos launched with two photo storage tiers: uncompressed "Original" quality, which counted toward your storage usage, and compressed "High Quality" photos, which did not count toward the limit. Starting on June 1, all newly uploaded photos—even the compressed ones—will count toward the storage limit. Images uploaded before that date that didn't count toward the limit still won't count. But with automatic upload, it's only a matter of time before shutterbugs fill up their online storage.

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Texas’ “failsafe” generators failed, risking weeks-long catastrophe

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 9:50am
A worker repairs a power line in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.

Enlarge / A worker repairs a power line in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (credit: Thomas Ryan Allison/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Texas’ days-long power outages during last February’s deep freeze almost stretched into weeks or even months thanks to a string of failures at “black start” generators.

More than half of the state’s 28 black start generators, which are crucial for bringing a collapsed grid back to life, experienced outages themselves, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. Of the 13 primary generators, nine encountered trouble, as did six of 15 secondary generators acting as backups in case the primary backups failed. Some had trouble getting enough fuel to run, while others were damaged by the cold weather.

“Having had experience for almost two decades with utilities, it’s genuinely inconceivable to me—even in today’s massively deregulated environment—I cannot imagine how any regulatory oversight got itself into this position,” said Evan Wilner, who served as Delaware’s first public advocate representing utility customers.

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Engineered virus and goggles restore object recognition in a blind man

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 9:26am
Image of a seated person wearing a red cap and goggles.

Enlarge / The goggles in use. The red cap isn't part of the system; it holds electrodes that are tracking the participant's brain activity. (credit: Sahel et. al.)

Our nerves' electrical impulses are created by a class of proteins called ion channels, which let ions flow into and out of cells. But controlling the flow of ions has uses that go well beyond creating nerve impulses, and there are many other channels made by cells—and even some made by bacteria and other organisms that don't have nerves.

Scientists have discovered channels that only allow ions to flow after being triggered by light of specific wavelengths. When placed back into nerve cells, the channels turned out to be useful, as they allowed researchers to activate nerves using nothing but light. This discovery created an entire field of research—optogenetics—which has demonstrated that even complicated behaviors like socializing can be controlled with light.

But light-activated nerve activity is also part of normal biology, in the form of our eyes. The development of channels as a research tool has raised the prospect of using them to treat failing vision. In an important proof of concept, researchers have now used a light-sensitive channel and some specialized goggles to allow someone who is otherwise blind to locate objects.

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How I learned to love the Indianapolis 500, America’s greatest race

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 7:34am
Scott Dixon has won six IndyCar championships and one Indy 500. On Sunday, he will start the 105th Indy 500 from pole position.

Enlarge / Scott Dixon has won six IndyCar championships and one Indy 500. On Sunday, he will start the 105th Indy 500 from pole position. (credit: Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As an immigrant, it took me a while to properly appreciate the Indianapolis 500. Taking place this coming Sunday, the race is one of the oldest in the world, and it's the largest single-day sporting event of the year, to boot. To the uninitiated, 200 laps on a track with only four corners doesn't seem that complicated. But consider the fact that the 33 drivers still lap at an average speed of more than 220 mph (354 km/h), often inches from each other—and from the wall that lines the 2.5-mile (4 km) oval—and everything comes into perspective.

The race usually takes place on the same day as F1's Monaco Grand Prix (and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600), but it's now the highlight of the day for me, usually offering up about three hours of close but unpredictable racing. The demands on the driver are high—unlike in F1, an IndyCar has no power steering, for one thing.

And the addition of the aeroscreen has resulted in a considerable increase in cockpit temperatures now that drivers are no longer exposed to airflow. On top of that, teams need to manage their tire and fuel strategies and perfectly execute each pit stop if they want a shot at victory. It's a daunting challenge that has bested even legendary drivers like F1 double champion Fernando Alonso.

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