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Industry & Technology

The challenges of developing 5G networks in Africa

BBC Technology News - January 16, 2020 - 7:36pm
There are considerable challenges to developing reliable 5G networks across Africa.

Video: YouTuber Mark “Markiplier” Fischbach reflects on his video history

Ars Technica - January 16, 2020 - 7:11pm

Video directed by Morgan Crossley, edited by Dylan Blau & Louville Moore. Click here for transcript.

We're going to try something a little different this afternoon. Some of Ars' highest-performing YouTube videos have focused on gaming topics—like how designers created Dead Space's grab-tentacle or how Amnesia: The Dark Descent tricks players into terrifying themselves (though we've also done well with non-gaming topics, like exploring the phenomenon of flat earthers and even interviewing famous NASA people).

Which leads us to Mark "Markiplier" Fischbach. He runs one of the most popular gaming channels on YouTube, with (currently) just a hair under 25 million subscribers.

The Condé mothership informed us late last month that they had gotten some time with Markiplier and wanted to know if we were interested in filming something with him—and we took the plunge. Markiplier has a loud personality and is best known for his mugging at the camera while doing "Let's Play" videos on jump-scare games, but we wanted to see if we could capture a calmer, more introspective Markiplier than most folks might be used to seeing, looking over the past several years of the YouTube content creator landscape and discussing his successes—and his not-so-successes. It's an interesting glimpse into a world that a lot of regular Ars readers (myself included) might not be that familiar with—an alternate reality of content creation, where YouTube comments actually matter and trying to figure out how to maintain engagement is critical to success.

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Cyberpunk 2077 release pushed back to September 17, 2020

Ars Technica - January 16, 2020 - 7:01pm


CD Projekt Red announced via tweet this afternoon that the heavily anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 would be released on September 17, 2020. That's a five-month delay from the April 16 release date that was announced last June.

"We are currently at a stage where the game is complete and playable, but there's still work to be done," the company wrote. "Night City is massive—full of stories, content, and places to visit, but due to the sheer scale and complexity of it all, we need more time to finish playtesting, fixing, and polishing."

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Cooler Master is tired of telling parents their kids aren’t on drugs

Ars Technica - January 16, 2020 - 6:36pm

Early this morning, Cooler Master tweeted a picture of its new spade-tipped thermal compound applicators and captioned it "we didn't change the shape of the syringe to make applying thermal paste a lot easier, but because we're getting tired of having to explain to parents that their kid isn't using drugs."

It took the Ars staff a few minutes of grappling with Poe's Law to figure out if they were serious or not. On the one hand, how many parents would really mistake thermal compound for a medical syringe? On the other hand... the world's a big place, and as recently as 2015, I needed to tell parents en masse that the most prevalent server operating system on the planet isn't malware, so who knows? But Cooler Master is probably just joining the likes of Wendy's, Denny's, and Old Spice on Snarky Brand Twitter.

What we're sure of is that the spade-tipped applicator looks a lot more pleasant to use than the general purpose closed-needle-tip syringe senior techs and enthusiasts have been grappling with for decades. If you're not accustomed to it, thermal compound is thick, goopy, and an absolute nightmare to clean off of any credit card you unwisely use to try to spread a thin film of it evenly across your new CPU, as guides have advised for as long as thermal compound has existed. (Some techs keep a "fake" credit card around for just this purpose, which at least lets them get some use out of spam credit card offers.)

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Ars readers gave more than $33,000 in 2019 charity drive

Ars Technica - January 16, 2020 - 6:30pm

Enlarge / Giving a little joy. (credit: Flickr / xJasonRogersx)

Last month, we asked readers to donate to our 2019 Charity Drive sweepstakes. Now that the giving is done and the results have been tallied, we can report that Ars Technica readers donated $33,181.11 to Child's Play and the EFF through the charity drive. That's not quite a record for our annual effort, but it does bring our donation total over 13 years of charity driving past the $330,000 mark! Well done, Arsians!

Thanks to everyone who gave whatever they could. We're still early in the process of selecting and notifying winners of our swag giveaway, so don't fret if you haven't heard if you're a winner yet. In the meantime, enjoy these quick stats from the 2019 drive.

  • 2019 Fundraising total: $33,181.11
    • Total given to Child's Play: $14,373.88
    • Total given to the EFF: $18,758.00
  • Number of individual donations: 474
    • Child's Play donations: 253
    • EFF donations: 221
  • Average donation: $70.00
    • Child's Play average donation: $57.04
    • EFF average donation: $84.88
  • Median donation: $25.00
    • Median Child's Play donation: $25.00
    • Median EFF donation: $50.00
  • Top single donation: $1,000 (2 to EFF, 1 to CP)
  • Donations of $1,000 or more: 3
  • Donations of $100 or more: 121(!)
  • $1 donations: 3 (every little bit helps!)
  • Total charity donations from Ars Technica drives since 2007 (approximate): $336,107.01
    • 2018: $20,210.66
    • 2017: $36,012.37
    • 2016: $38,738.11
    • 2015: $38,861.06
    • 2014: $25,094.31
    • 2013: $23,570.13
    • 2012: $28,713.52
    • 2011: ~$26,000
    • 2010: ~$24,000
    • 2009: ~$17,000
    • 2008: ~$12,000
    • 2007: ~$10,000

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'Barnacle' car windscreen clamp sparks student fury

BBC Technology News - January 16, 2020 - 5:47pm
Students shared tips on how to remove the barnacle device on social media.

Another reason to hurry with Windows server patches: A new RDP vulnerability

Ars Technica - January 16, 2020 - 5:11pm

Enlarge / A crafted request is like a skeleton key for gaining access to unpatched Windows Remote Desktop servers. (credit: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

While much of the attention around Microsoft's latest Windows security patch has been focused on a flaw in Windows 10 and Windows Server that could be used to spoof a certificate for secure Web sessions or signing code, there were 48 other vulnerabilities that were fixed in the latest update package. Five were related to Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)-based service, which is used by thousands of organizations for remote access to computers within their networks. And two of them are flaws in the Windows Remote Desktop Gateway that could allow attackers to gain access to networks without having to provide a login.

These two separate bugs, identified as CVE-2020-0609 and CVE-2020-0610, are rated as more dangerous than the crypto bug by Microsoft because, while they're not yet exploited, they could be used to remotely execute code on targeted RDP servers before the gateway even attempts to authenticate them.

"An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights," the Microsoft Security Response Center summary of both vulnerabilities warned. And there is no way to work around the vulnerability without applying a software update. Both attacks rely on specially crafted requests to the Remote Desktop Gateway using the RDP protocol.

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Smart contact lens: 'It feels seriously sci-fi'

BBC Technology News - January 16, 2020 - 2:00pm
Mojo Vision has revealed its new lens which puts augmented reality in front of your eyes.

Turkey's Wikipedia ban ends after almost three years

BBC Technology News - January 16, 2020 - 10:52am
A top court rules the country's censorship of Wikipedia violated freedom of expression.

US lawmakers concerned by accuracy of facial recognition

BBC Technology News - January 16, 2020 - 5:04am
Lawmakers heard testimony on the risks of facial recognition programs which are largely unregulated.

Critical Windows 10 vulnerability used to Rickroll the NSA and Github

Ars Technica - January 16, 2020 - 1:30am

Enlarge / Chrome on Windows 10 as it Rickrolls the NSA. (credit:

Less than a day after Microsoft disclosed one of the most critical Windows vulnerabilities ever, a security researcher has demonstrated how attackers can exploit it to cryptographically impersonate any website or server on the Internet.

Researcher Saleem Rashid on Wednesday tweeted images of the video "Never Gonna Give You Up," by 1980s heart-throb Rick Astley, playing on and The digital sleight of hand is known as Rickrolling and is often used as a humorous and benign way to demonstrate serious security flaws. In this case, Rashid's exploit causes both the Edge and Chrome browsers to spoof the HTTPS verified websites of Github and the National Security Agency. Brave and other Chrome derivatives, as well as Internet Explorer, are also likely to fall to the same trick. (There's no indication Firefox is affected.)

The same exploit used to Rickroll Github on Edge.

Rashid's simulated attack exploits CVE-2020-0601, the critical vulnerability that Microsoft patched on Tuesday after receiving a private tipoff from the NSA. As Ars reported, the flaw can completely break certificate validation for websites, software updates, VPNs, and other security-critical computer uses. It affects Windows 10 systems, including server versions Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019. Other versions of Windows are unaffected.

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Google gives Chrome OS Apps a shutdown date

Ars Technica - January 16, 2020 - 1:05am

Enlarge / The "App" section of the Chrome Web Store. (credit: Google Chrome)

Chrome's Packaged Apps have been a dead platform for a while now, after a 2016 announcement that the "App" section of Chrome's Web store would be pulled from Windows, Mac, and Linux, leaving Chrome OS as the only supported OS. Today, Google announced that the last supported platform, Chrome OS, is losing access to Chrome apps, too, along with dates to strip the app feature out of Chrome's code base. Google writes it "will begin phasing out support for Chrome Apps across all operating systems as follows:"

  • March 2020: Chrome Web Store will stop accepting new Chrome Apps. Developers will be able to update existing Chrome Apps through June 2022.
  • June 2020: End support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support through December 2020.
  • December 2020: End support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • June 2021: End support for NaCl, PNaCl, and PPAPI APIs.
  • June 2021: End support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support through June 2022.
  • June 2022: End support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS for all customers.

Most Windows, Mac, and Linux users haven't been able to use Chrome packaged apps for years now, as the Web store was shut down for them in 2017. Users on those OSes shouldn't notice a thing, unless they were sideloading packaged apps or getting them through an enterprise management feature. Chrome OS is the real news here, and it will continue to cling to the feature until June 2022.

Google kills product

View more stories Chrome OS supports a number of platforms that get presented in the "app" style, so keep in mind only the "Chrome Packaged Apps" are going away. Chrome OS will still keep its app-like shortcuts to websites, along with support for "Progressive Web Apps (PWA)"—Web APIs that support app-style features like push notifications and offline functionality. There's still going to be support for Android apps, which bring the nearly 3 million apps in the Play Store to Chrome OS. Google also points out that "This change does not impact support for Chrome Extensions" and that "Fostering a robust ecosystem of extensions is critical to Chrome's mission, and we are committed to providing a useful extension platform for customizing the browsing experience for all users."

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Welsh language music app Apton in call for public money

BBC Technology News - January 16, 2020 - 1:04am
Sain Records' Apton app says it is "difficult" to compete with major corporations like Spotify.

Twitter apologises for letting ads target neo-Nazis and bigots

BBC Technology News - January 16, 2020 - 1:04am
Social network apologises for allowing the use of discriminatory ad keywords it had meant to ban.

Mozilla lays off 70 people as non-search revenue fails to materialize

Ars Technica - January 16, 2020 - 12:53am

Enlarge / Mozilla's office in San Francisco. (credit: Getty Images | Iuliia Serova)

Mozilla has laid off 70 people, TechCrunch reports. It's a significant move for an organization that employs around 1,000 people worldwide.

"You may recall that we expected to be earning revenue in 2019 and 2020 from new subscription products as well as higher revenue from sources outside of search," wrote Mozilla interim CEO Mitchell Baker in a memo to staff obtained by TechCrunch. "This did not happen."

Baker said Mozilla had decided not to shelve its $43 million innovation fund, which focuses on creating new Mozilla products. She said Mozilla would provide "generous exit packages and outplacement support" to those who were let go.

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The broken record of breaking encryption skips again in Florida shooter case

Ars Technica - January 16, 2020 - 12:40am

Enlarge / US President Donald Trump speaks about the impeachment inquiry during a tour of the Flextronics computer manufacturing facility where Apple's Mac Pros are assembled in Austin, Texas, on November 20, 2019. Now, he's ranting about Apple being unpatriotic. (credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

On the eve of the House of Representatives' forwarding of articles of impeachment to the Senate, President Donald Trump took time to attack Apple. The president's outburst on Twitter appears to be about the FBI's inability to get access to the physical storage on two iPhones connected to last month's killings at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. And it is the latest ratcheting up of rhetoric from the Trump administration on device encryption.

The phones are believed by the FBI to have been the property of Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the Saudi Air Force officer who was the suspect in the shooting of three members of the US Navy in December. Alshamrani died after being shot by law enforcement, and the devices were locked.

But an Apple spokesperson said that Apple had provided the contents of the cloud backups of those devices to investigators within hours of the shooting, and Apple executives thought the FBI was satisfied with that—until the FBI came back a week ago and asked for additional assistance. It is not clear that Apple has refused that assistance, but the company has resisted providing a way for the government to break the encryption on devices in the past. Apple did this out of concern that breaking open devices would reduce the protection provided to law-abiding customers against theft of their personal data off stolen or otherwise targeted devices.

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Petersfield Bookshop inundated after 'tumbleweed' tweet

BBC Technology News - January 15, 2020 - 11:29pm
Author Neil Gaiman and thousands of other people were moved by the shop's plight.

US may subsidize Huawei alternatives with proposed $1.25 billion fund

Ars Technica - January 15, 2020 - 10:15pm

Enlarge / Huawei sign displayed at CES 2020 in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

The US government should spend at least $1.25 billion "to invest in Western-based alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE," a bipartisan group of six US senators said yesterday.

The senators submitted legislation called the Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act to make that happen, arguing that the US must counter the Chinese government's investments in the telecom sector. The money would come from spectrum-auction proceeds, and the $1.25 billion in grants would be spread out over 10 years. The money would support development of new 5G technology, with a focus on equipment that complies with open standards to ensure "multi-vendor network equipment interoperability."

The senators' announcement said:

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Amazon lifts ban on FedEx for third-party marketplace sellers

Ars Technica - January 15, 2020 - 6:34pm

Enlarge / FedEx and Amazon, friends once more. (credit: Christopher Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Internet giant Amazon is doing an about-face on its earlier ban and will now let third-party vendors using its marketplace ship items using FedEx.

The company lifted its ban as of 5pm eastern time yesterday, reports Bloomberg, which obtained a copy of the email Amazon sent to sellers.

Amazon in December abruptly prohibited third-party vendors on its website from using FedEx ground delivery services. In a communication to third-party merchants sent at the time, Amazon said the ban on FedEx Ground and Home services would persist "until the delivery performance of these ship methods improves."

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2019 was likely Earth’s second-hottest year on record

Ars Technica - January 15, 2020 - 6:30pm

Enlarge / Temperature above or below the 1950-1981 average, in kelvins (equivalent to degrees C). (credit: NASA)

It’s mid-January, which means the jokes about New Year’s resolutions are hopefully fading out along with your seasonal depression. Oh, and NOAA’s and NASA’s final 2019 global temperature analyses have dropped. (No need to get the party hats and noisemakers back out.)

Let’s start with the numbers. Last year comes in as the second warmest on record in almost every dataset. The UK Met Office dataset has it in third place, as does one satellite dataset (though it is a bit out of step with other satellite records). Satellite datasets measure temperatures higher in the atmosphere rather than surface temperatures, so small differences are not uncommon. Surface temperature datasets generally go back to the late 1800s, while satellite datasets begin in 1979.

(credit: NASA)

The biggest piece of context you need to understand these annual updates is the El Niño Southern Oscillation—a see-saw of Pacific Ocean temperatures that pushes the global average a little above or below the long-term trend each year. In an El Niño pattern, warm water from the western equatorial Pacific drifts toward South America. In a La Niña pattern, strong winds hold that warm water back, pulling up deep, cold water along South America. Years in which El Niño dominates tend to have a higher global average surface temperature, while La Niña years are a little cooler.

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