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Industry & Technology

Tim Cook says Apple's first Indian store to open 2021

BBC Technology News - 7 hours 54 min ago
The iPhone maker lags behind competitors in the world's second largest mobile phone market.

Anti-vaxxers wage war in Conn., lawmaker calls vaccines “witches brew”

Ars Technica - 7 hours 57 min ago

Enlarge / Image of anti-vaccine protestors in Connecticut's Legislative Office Building. They formed a prayer circle and said the Pledge of Allegiance and the Our Father before chanting “Healthy kids belong in school.” (credit: Twitter | Christopher Keating)

The battle over vaccinations ramped up in Connecticut this week as state lawmakers narrowly advanced a bill—with last-minute amendments—aimed at banning religious vaccine exemptions for children.

If passed, the measure will no longer allow parents to cite their religious beliefs as a valid reason not to provide their children with life-saving immunizations, which are otherwise required for entry into public and private schools and daycares.

The legislature’s public health committee passed the bill Monday in a 14-11 vote bu t not before making a last-minute amendment that would grandfather in children who already have such an exemption. As passed, the amended legislation would only apply to children newly enrolling.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

LG’s 2020 flagship smartphone is LG V60 ThinQ

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 11:32pm

Mobile World Congress had to stay home sick this year with the coronavirus, but that's not stopping the mobile industry from making a bunch of announcements this week. LG has announced its obligatory Snapdragon 865 smartphone: the "LG V60 ThinQ."

The phone has Qualcomm's latest SoC, the Snapdragon 865, along with the X55 5G modem. LG's spec sheet does not say what kind of 5G (really, LG?) but Android Police reports that there is "mmWave exclusive to Verizon, and sub-6 for everyone, including AT&T." The phone has a 6.8-inch 2460×1080 OLED display, 8GB of RAM, 128GB or 256GB of storage, a microSD slot, and a 5000mAh battery. There are four holes in the rear-camera array but only three cameras: a 64MP main camera, 13MP wide-angle, and two holes for a time-of-flight camera for 3D effects. Like every other Snapdragon 865, 5G-packing smartphone we've seen so far, this is a lot bigger than last year's device. The LG V50 measured 159.2 x 76.1 x 8.3 mm, while the V60 is bigger in every direction: 169.3 x 77.6 x 8.9mm.

Also like the LG V50, the V60 again has an optional second screen attachment, This makes the phone look a bit like a Microsoft Surface Duo without any of the striking good looks. The second screen is the same as the first: a 6.8-inch 2460×1080 OLED display, and there's even a  2.1-inch monochrome screen on the front, which shows the time, date, battery level, and notification icons. The case is powered by the phone by plugging into the USB-C port, and for charging with the case on, you get a Mag-Safe-style magnetic charging connector. It's kind of neat that's it's reversible, but it's also a proprietary charger to worry about.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

First Amendment doesn’t apply on YouTube; judges reject PragerU lawsuit

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 10:56pm

Enlarge (credit: YouTube / Getty / Aurich Lawson)

YouTube is a private forum and therefore not subject to free-speech requirements under the First Amendment, a US appeals court ruled today. "Despite YouTube's ubiquity and its role as a public-facing platform, it remains a private forum, not a public forum subject to judicial scrutiny under the First Amendment," the court said.

PragerU, a conservative media company, sued YouTube in October 2017, claiming the Google-owned video site "unlawfully censor[ed] its educational videos and discriminat[ed] against its right to freedom of speech."

PragerU said YouTube reduced its viewership and revenue with "arbitrary and capricious use of 'restricted mode' and 'demonetization' viewer restriction filters." PragerU claimed it was targeted by YouTube because of its "political identity and viewpoint as a non-profit that espouses conservative views on current and historical events."

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

In a historic first, one private satellite docks to another in orbit

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 9:32pm

On Tuesday, a spacecraft that was launched four months earlier docked with a communications satellite about 36,000km above the Earth. Northrop Grumman reported the historic docking on Wednesday, and the company heralded the mission as an "historic accomplishment" in the field of satellite servicing. Prior to this mission, no two commercial spacecraft had ever docked in orbit before.

Launched on a Proton rocket in October, the Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1) has a fairly long history of development under various companies. Ultimately, it was brought to space by SpaceLogistics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman. After the company's rideshare launch in October, its MEV-1 spacecraft used electric-propulsion thrusters to raise its orbit 290km above geosynchronous orbit.

Meanwhile, a communications satellite launched in 2001 (Intelsat-901) was pulled from active service in December 2019 as it ran low on fuel. Operators commanded the satellite to move into a "graveyard orbit" above geostationary space. It is here that MEV-1 linked up with the communications satellite on Tuesday.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

People survived the Toba supervolcano’s global winter after all

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 9:14pm

Landsat image of Lake Toba (credit: NASA)

A supervolcano eruption 74,000 years ago wasn’t enough to stop humanity in its tracks, artifacts at a Paleolithic site in central India suggest. The study is the latest strike against a hotly debated proposal that suggests the eruption of Indonesia’s Toba supervolcano had a huge influence on human evolution. The idea is that the eruption caused global cooling that killed most of the humans who had spread from Africa into Europe and Asia. But at the Dhaba site in Madhya Pradesh, India, archaeologists found stone tools in sediment layers spanning thousands of years before and after the eruption—evidence that human life went on.

An ancient apocalypse?

Today, the Toba supervolcano lies beneath the strikingly scenic Lake Toba on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Seventy-four thousand years ago, it erupted in the middle of an important chapter in humanity’s takeover of the world. One of archaeology’s biggest questions in recent years has been when and how people first spread beyond Africa into different areas of the world; the answers lie in fossilized skeletons, objects left behind, and the DNA of modern people.

Fossil evidence suggests that people had reached the Levant by around 200,000 years ago, the Arabian Peninsula by around 85,000 years ago, and northern Australia by around 65,000 years ago. But the genomes of modern people suggest that the ancestors of modern African and non-African peoples branched off from a common ancestor around 70,000 years ago. At first glance, those lines of evidence don’t seem to agree, and some paleoanthropologists say that’s because a sudden, lengthy period of global cooling changed environments around the world in very drastic ways. The resulting crisis allegedly killed off most of the people alive at the time, leaving only a few thousand survivors.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Intel promises Full Memory Encryption in upcoming CPUs

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 8:29pm

At Intel's Security Day event on Tuesday, the company laid down its present and future vision for security-focused features in its hardware.

Intel's Anil Rao and Scott Woodgate opened their presentation with a present-and-future discussion of Intel's SGX (Software Guard Extensions), but their coverage of the company's plans to bring Full Memory Encryption to future Intel CPUs was more interesting.

Software Guard Extensions

Intel SGX—announced in 2014, and launched with the Skylake microarchitecture in 2015—is one of the first hardware encryption technologies designed to protect areas of memory from unauthorized users, up to and including the system administrators themselves. SGX is a set of x86_64 CPU instructions which allows a process to create an "enclave" within memory which is hardware encrypted. Data stored in the encrypted enclave is only decrypted within the CPU—and even then, it is only decrypted at the request of instructions executed from within the enclave itself.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple tells moviemakers that villains can’t use iPhones, Rian Johnson says

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 8:07pm

Enlarge / The iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max running iOS 13. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Apple does not let filmmakers show villains using iPhones on camera, movie director Rian Johnson said in a new interview with Vanity Fair.

"Apple, they let you use iPhones in movies, but—and this is very pivotal if you're ever watching a mystery movie—bad guys cannot have iPhones on camera," Johnson said. Johnson said he was reluctant to reveal that tidbit "because it's going to screw me on the next mystery movie that I write," but he added, "forget it, I'll say it. It's very interesting."

"Every single filmmaker that has a bad guy in their movie that's supposed to be a secret wants to murder me right now," Johnson said. He made the comment while talking about a scene from his mystery film Knives Out. The remark is at the 2:50 mark of this video:

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Researchers find an animal without mitochondria

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 7:36pm

Enlarge / Mitochondria, previously found in all animals, is now in all animals but one. (credit: NIH)

Eukaryotes are the branch of the tree of life with complex cells, containing a separate compartment for DNA, lots of internal compartments, and mitochondria that use oxygen to provide lots of energy. These features were so successful that we can't find any trace of a eukaryotic ancestor that lacks any of them. It has been suggested that the mitochondria's ability to mobilize energy was an essential ingredient for animal life.

That said, there are a small number of single-celled parasites that seem to have lost this energy-producing function over the course of evolution. They typically still have mitochondria-like compartments, but they've lost their DNA and role in aerobic metabolism. Instead, these compartments are involved in specialized chemical functions like producing hydrogen. But these were typically parasites that lived in oxygen-free environments and were only distantly related to animal life.

But now researchers have identified an animal that is also a parasite that lives in oxygen-poor environments. And it, too, has gotten rid of its mitochondria, being the first-known instance of an animal that lacks them.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

NTSB blasts Tesla, CalTrans, and NHTSA for Autopilot death

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 7:04pm

Enlarge

On Monday, the National Transportation Safety Board met to discuss its investigation into the March 2018 crash that killed Tesla owner Walter Huang. The hearing followed a recent release of a trove of documents related to the investigation, which revealed that Huang had in the past repeatedly experienced the same glitch that caused his Tesla Model X to veer out of its lane and into a concrete highway gore, as well as the fact that he was playing a game called Three Kingdoms on his iPhone in the minutes leading up to his death.

During the hearing, the NTSB was highly critical of Tesla for what it sees as misleading marketing of its driver assistance system and a lax attitude toward the system's operational design domain. But there was plenty of blame to share—the board also excoriated the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency for providing utterly ineffectual oversight when it comes to so-called "level 2" driver assists, as well as California's highway agency CalTrans, which failed to replace a damaged crash attenuator in front of the concrete gore, which would in most likelihood have saved Huang's life.

"This tragic crash clearly demonstrates the limitations of advanced driver assistance systems available to consumers today. There is not a vehicle currently available to US consumers that is self-driving. Period. Every vehicle sold to US consumers still requires the driver to be actively engaged in the driving task, even when advanced driver assistance systems are activated. If you are selling a car with an advanced driver assistance system, you’re not selling a self-driving car. If you are driving a car with an advanced driver assistance system, you don’t own a self-driving car," said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Redcar council IT hack confirmed as ransomware attack

BBC Technology News - February 26, 2020 - 7:01pm
Redcar council's IT systems have been down for 19 days but "significant progress" is being made.

Making a more accurate pregnancy test for humpback whales

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 6:48pm

Enlarge / A humpback whale and calf. (credit: flickr user: texaus1)

Peeing on a stick is nobody's idea of fun, but it’s a hell of a lot better than what whales have had to deal with: pregnancy test by dart gun. And if a blubber-sampling dart wasn't bad enough, some dart gun pregnancy tests might not even be all that accurate.

A recent paper in Nature Scientific Reports found evidence that the standard humpback whale pregnancy test was failing to spot a whole lot of pregnant females. There’s a better way of testing, the researchers suggest—and their results could help conservationists and researchers protect whales.

Counting whales

You can’t protect a species very effectively if you have no idea how many individuals are alive and whether their numbers are on the increase or decrease. Estimating populations of wild animals is always tricky, but for whales, it’s fiendish—huge territories, long migrations, and of course the whole problem of living underwater mean that scientists have to get inventive to figure out even rough numbers.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Secretive face-matching startup has customer list stolen

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 5:55pm

Enlarge / A video surveillance camera hangs from the side of a building on May 14, 2019, in San Francisco, California. (credit: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images)

Clearview, a secretive facial-recognition startup that claims to scrape the Internet for images to use, has itself now had data unexpectedly scraped, in a manner of speaking. Someone apparently popped into the company's system and stole its entire client list, which Clearview to date has refused to share.

Clearview notified its customers about the leak today, according to The Daily Beast, which obtained a copy of the notification. The memo says an intruder accessed the list of customers, as well as the number of user accounts those customers set up and the number of searches those accounts have conducted.

"Unfortunately, data breaches are part of life in the 21st century," Tor Ekeland, an attorney for Clearview, told The Daily Beast. "Our servers were never accessed. We patched the flaw and continue to work to strengthen our security."

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

GOG asks you to please not abuse its expansive new 30-day refund policy

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 5:14pm

Enlarge

For years now, downloadable PC gaming retailer GOG has offered a "money-back guarantee" only if a game you bought "doesn't work" on your hardware. Today, the company has removed that requirement, offering an expansive new refund policy for up to 30 days after purchase, "even if you downloaded, launched, and played [the game]."

While users won't have to provide a reason for their refund request when contacting customer support, GOG says in an FAQ that it reserves the right to "refuse refunds in... individual cases." More broadly, that means the company will be "monitoring the effects of the current update to make sure no one is using this policy to hurt the developers that put their time and heart into making great games."

That monitoring could end up being important, because all of GOG's games are offered without any DRM protection. That would seemingly make it trivial for a customer to purchase and download a game, create a fully functional backup, and then ask for a refund while keeping an essentially free copy.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Flaw in billions of Wi-Fi devices left communications open to eavesdropping

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 4:00pm

Enlarge

SAN FRANCISCO — Billions of devices—many of them already patched—are affected by a Wi-Fi vulnerability that allows nearby attackers to decrypt sensitive data sent over the air, researchers said on Wednesday at the RSA security conference.

The vulnerability exists in Wi-Fi chips made by Cypress Semiconductor and Broadcom, the latter whose Wi-Fi business was acquired by Cypress in 2016. The affected devices include iPhones, iPads, Macs, Amazon Echos and Kindles, Android devices, Raspberry Pi 3’s, and Wi-Fi routers from Asus and Huawei. Eset, the security company that discovered the vulnerability, said the flaw primarily affects Cyperess’ and Broadcom’s FullMAC WLAN chips, which are used in billions of devices. Eset has named the vulnerability Kr00k, and it is tracked as CVE-2019-15126.

Manufacturers have made patches available for most or all of the affected devices, but it’s not clear how many devices have installed the patches. Of greatest concern are vulnerable wireless routers, which often go unpatched indefinitely.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Tesla Autopilot crash driver 'was playing video game'

BBC Technology News - February 26, 2020 - 3:02pm
An Apple employee died after his semi-autonomous Tesla hit a concrete barrier.

Clarence Thomas regrets ruling that Ajit Pai used to kill net neutrality

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 3:00pm

Enlarge / US Supreme Court justices sit for their official group photo on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. Seated from left, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, and Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts. Standing from left, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. (credit: Getty Images | The Washington Post)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wants a do-over on his 2005 decision in a case that had a major impact on the power of federal agencies and regulation of the broadband industry.

In National Cable & Telecommunications Association v. Brand X Internet Services, better known as Brand X, Thomas wrote the 6-3 majority opinion that upheld a Federal Communications Commission decision to classify cable broadband as an information service. But in a dissent on a new case, released Monday, Thomas wrote that he got Brand X wrong. Thomas regrets that Brand X gave federal agencies extensive power to interpret US law, a power generally reserved for judges.

"Regrettably, Brand X has taken this Court to the precipice of administrative absolutism," Thomas wrote. "Under its rule of deference, agencies are free to invent new (purported) interpretations of statutes and then require courts to reject their own prior interpretations."

Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ars takes the new Opera R2020 browser for a spin

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 1:45pm

Enlarge / The "detach video" option Opera provides for YouTube and similar videos is really nice—aside from detaching the video from the browser, it strips off the useless control/info elements that tend to not-so-accidentally ugly up your video when you pause it. (credit: Jim Salter)

When the topic of Web browsers comes up, most people only think of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and whatever Microsoft's doing this week. (Just kidding, Microsoft—the new Edge is unironically great!) But today, we're going to look at perennial bridesmaid Opera, which released a new version codenamed R2020 this Tuesday.

Operating system support

Opera R2020 is available on Windows, MacOS, and Linux—meanwhile, Opera Touch, for mobile devices, is available on Android and iOS. We tested Opera on both Linux and Windows, and we also tested Opera Touch on Android. MacOS and iOS ports were not tested.

Linux

Take note, everybody: this is the correct way to package and distribute third-party software from your own repository to Debian-derived distros. (credit: Jim Salter)

me@banshee:~$ cat /etc/apt/sources.list.d/opera-stable.list # This file makes sure that Opera Browser is kept up-to-date # as part of regular system upgrades deb https://deb.opera.com/opera-stable/ stable non-free #Opera Browser (final releases)

We were absolutely delighted to see a Google Chrome style offering of a .deb file when we visited the Opera download page from an Ubuntu 19.10 workstation. Aside from initial native packaging, installing Opera from the provided .deb file also offered a choice to automatically add Opera's repository to Ubuntu's system repository list, making further security and feature upgrades automatic. (Native RPMs are similarly offered to Fedora and OpenSUSE users.)

Read 34 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Amazon made a bigger camera-spying store—so we tried to steal its fruit

Ars Technica - February 26, 2020 - 12:45pm

Enlarge / Amazon Go Grocery's first location in the Seattle neighborhood of Capitol Hill. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

SEATTLE—For how far and wide Amazon's digital footprint reaches, the company clearly wants to advance into real-world space as much as possible. And to that end, Amazon runs some of its most ambitious experiments in its headquarters' city before rolling them out nationwide.

As our staff's sole Seattle resident, I pull the short straw of testing these by default.

In 2015, I shopped at Amazon's first stab at a brick-and-mortar bookstore (you know, those old things Amazon has been accused of putting out of business in the first place) before that chain's eventual nationwide launch. In 2016, I delivered Amazon packages as a gig-economy driver, before this kind of contract employee became a commonplace part of the nationwide Amazon Prime Now network. And in 2018, I picked through the first "cashierless," camera-filled Amazon Go convenience store before the same concept landed in other major metropolitan centers.

Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Lenovo refreshes its ThinkPad lineup with AMD Ryzen Pro 4000

Ars Technica - February 25, 2020 - 11:50pm

Lenovo has announced updates to its ThinkPad lineup with a number of improvements, chief among them the option for some models to include AMD Ryzen Pro 4000 mobile CPUs. The updated models are expected to launch in the second quarter of 2020. These are the models Lenovo plans to refresh, along with their starting prices:

  • ThinkPad T14 ($849)
  • ThinkPad T14s ($1,029)
  • ThinkPad T15 ($1,079)
  • ThinkPad X13 ($849)
  • ThinkPad X13 Yoga ($1,099)
  • ThinkPad L13 ($679)
  • ThinkPad L13 Yoga ($799)
  • ThinkPad L14 ($649)
  • ThinkPad L15 ($649)

AMD's Ryzen 4000 Pro is available as an optional pick on the ThinkPad T14, T14S, X13, L14, and L15 models. The highest-end of the new AMD Ryzen 4000 Pro chips has eight cores and gives Intel a run for its money.

Intel chips are available picks across the line too, though (10th-generation Intel Core vPro later in 2020). And Intel-equipped T or X series laptops get a CAT 16 WWAN option. For the L14 and L15, CAN 9 WWAN is available. All the new ThinkPad models have Wi-Fi 6, and several models (all but the L13 and L13 Yoga) offer LTE configurations.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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