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Industry & Technology

Gambling: Four ads banned from Looney Tunes app

BBC Technology News - 1 hour 32 min ago
The game - considered appealing to under 18s - gave players the chance to earn "gems" by viewing ads.

Should we dislike the 'Like' button?

BBC Technology News - 11 hours 29 min ago
Social media companies know approval can be addictive, so how should we manage the compulsion to be liked?

Horrified researchers want out of “infomercial” for shady stem-cell clinics

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 10:03pm

Enlarge / Cheesy graphic from stem-cell documentary "The Healthcare Revolution." (credit: Healthcare Revolution)

Around a dozen prominent stem-cell experts said this week that they have been duped into appearing in a documentary series some described as an infomercial for the unproven and dangerous stem-cell treatments peddled by clinics now facing federal charges.

The researchers said they had originally agreed to do interviews for the project believing it was for a sober, educational documentary on legitimate stem-cell research—which holds medical potential but is still largely unproven to benefit patients. Just days before the documentary’s intended release of June 17, however, researchers say they were horrified to learn that the 10-part series, titled The Healthcare Revolution, hypes dubious stem-cell treatments as miracle cures and gives false hope to desperate patients. The revelation was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

The researchers soon after discovered that the series was partially funded by the Cell Surgical Network, a for-profit chain of clinics currently facing federal charges for selling stem-cell treatments without approval from the Food and Drug Administration and failing to adhere to safety regulations. Hundreds of such questionable clinics have popped up around the country in recent years.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

iOS 13 will remind you to cancel your subscription when you delete an app

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 9:48pm

Sure, some users will appreciate iOS 13's dark mode, but features that relate to privacy, quality of life, and user advocacy are likely to be the ones that make the biggest difference for people when Apple's new iPhone, iPad, and iPod software arrives later this year.

To that point, uninstalling an app to which you have a paid subscription in iOS 13's latest beta release will lead to a prompt to potentially unsubscribe from that app. This might be a good idea because odds are decent that if you're deleting the app, you're not planning to use the related service anymore.

Of course, that won't always be the case: you could just be removing the app temporarily, you could still plan to use it on another device, or you could even just wish to keep supporting the developer who made it. The prompt just says "Manage Subscription," which is what copywriters might call a soft call-to-action—it's not telling you to unsubscribe, it's just making it an option.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

People keep spotting Teslas with snoozing drivers on the freeway

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 9:34pm

Enlarge / Reddit user MiloWee uploaded a video of this allegedly sleeping Tesla driver. (credit: MiloWee / Reddit)

In the last week, two different people have captured video of Tesla vehicles traveling down a freeway with an apparently sleeping driver behind the wheel.

Both incidents happened in California. Last week, local television stations in Los Angeles aired footage from viewer Shawn Miladinovich of a Tesla vehicle driving on LA's 405 freeway. The driver "was just fully sleeping, eyes were shut, hands nowhere near the steering wheel," said Miladinovich, who was a passenger in a nearby car, in an interview with NBC Channel 4.

Miladinovich said he saw the vehicle twice, about 30 minutes apart, as both cars traveled along the 405 freeway. The driver appeared to be asleep both times. He wrote down the vehicle's license plate number and called the information in to 911, but the California Highway Patrol had not reacted by the time the vehicles went their separate ways.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Samsung asks users to please virus-scan their TVs

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 9:16pm

Yesterday on Twitter, Samsung's US support team reminded everyone to regularly—and manually—virus-scan their televisions.

Samsung's team followed this up with a short video showing someone in a conference room going 16 button-presses deep into the system menu of a Samsung QLED TV to activate the television's built-in virus-scan, which is apparently "McAfee Security for TV."

Welcome to the future. You can't have a jetpack, but here's some third-party antivirus for your television. Enjoy!

Unsurprisingly, Samsung got immediate pushback on these tweets and almost as immediately deleted them.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New vulnerabilities may let hackers remotely SACK Linux and FreeBSD systems

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 8:53pm

Enlarge (credit: JIP)

The Linux and FreeBSD operating systems contain newly discovered vulnerabilities that make it easy for hackers to remotely crash servers and disrupt communications, researchers have warned. OS distributors are advising users to install patches when available or to make system settings that lower the chances of successful exploits.

The most severe of the vulnerabilities, dubbed SACK Panic, can be exploited by sending a specially crafted sequence of TCP Selective ACKnowledgements to a vulnerable computer or server. The system will respond by crashing, or in the parlance of engineers, entering a kernel panic. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2019-11477, results in a remote denial of service (DoS).

A second vulnerability also works by sending a series of malicious SACKs that consumes computing resources of the vulnerable system. Exploits most commonly work by fragmenting a queue reserved for retransmitting TCP packets. In some OS versions, attackers can cause what’s known as an “expensive linked-list walk for subsequent SACKs.” This can result in additional fragmentation, which has been dubbed “SACK slowness.” Exploitation of this vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2019-11478, drastically degrades system performance and may eventually cause a complete DoS.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New Zealand judge sends neo-Nazi to prison for sharing mosque shooting video

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 8:00pm

Enlarge / A photo of Philip Arps that was taken from a Facebook page. (credit: Facebook photo)

A New Zealand court today sentenced a man to 21 months in prison for sharing a video of the white-supremacist terrorist attacks that killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch.

As we noted in previous coverage, New Zealand and many other countries don't have US-style free-speech protections. After the mosque shootings on March 15, New Zealand's chief censor determined that a 17-minute video livestreamed during the shooting is objectionable under the country's law.

"It's illegal to have a copy of the video or document, or to share these with others," the New Zealand government explained.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Dealmaster: Get a Nintendo Switch Pro Controller for $50

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 6:55pm

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with another round of deals to share. Today's list is headlined by a deal on Nintendo's Switch Pro Controller, which is down to $50. That's good for a $15-20 discount off its usual going rate and tied for the lowest we've seen the gamepad at reputable retailers.

Whether it's worth jumping on this deal depends on how often you keep the Switch docked and hooked up to a TV. The Switch's built-in "Joy-Con" controllers are still perfectly fine for most use cases, and if you're on the road, the hassle of trying to keep the Switch propped up just to use the Switch Pro pad probably isn't worth it. Much of the Switch's appeal is in its portability, after all.

But if you don't just treat your Switch like a big 3DS, the Switch Pro Controller brings substantial upgrades in comfort and responsiveness, particularly over the course of longer play sessions. The face buttons, triggers, and joysticks are bigger and have more give, there's an actual d-pad, and the whole thing should be sized appropriately for all but the smallest hands. (Those joysticks are also laid out asymmetrically, a la an Xbox controller, which the Dealmaster has always found to feel more natural than the layout on Sony's DualShock 4 pad.) Nintendo rates the controller's rechargeable battery as lasting an excellent 40 hours on a charge, and that estimate isn't far off in practice.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Electric car charging interoperability is the next big thing in mobility

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 6:20pm

Enlarge (credit: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

Last week, we reported that Electrify America and ChargePoint had just inked a roaming agreement allowing their customers to use each other's electric car charging networks. On Tuesday, another major network, EVgo, announced it has also signed agreements, this time with ChargePoint and EV Connect. In a press release, EVgo says that the agreements will mean EVgo customers will have access to 400 new fast charging stations in addition to the 750 DC fast chargers the company currently operates in the US.

"EVgo’s two new bilateral interoperability agreements will make charging for EVgo customers even more convenient through our strengthened commitment to open standards, collaboration, and innovation," said Cathy Zoi, EVgo's CEO.

As Zoi's statement points out, this deal—like the Electrify America/ChargePoint one before it—is a bilateral agreement between individual networks. That's great if you're an EVgo customer who wants to use a ChargePoint charger without creating a new user account. But it's obviously no help if (for example) you're an Electrify America customer who needs to plug in to an EVgo charger.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google’s ninth attempt at a messaging service will be based on RCS

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 6:15pm

Enlarge / Google's "Messages" app.

It's time for the annual reshuffling of Google's messaging strategy! The latest news comes to us via The Verge, which has a big feature detailing Google Messaging Strategy 2019: taking RCS back from the carriers. Google now wants to run an RCS service (an upgrade to the aging SMS system) itself, with the service first launching in France and the UK later this month. RCS will be something like Google's ninth instant messaging platform, after Google Talk, Google Voice, Google Buzz, Google+ Messenger, Hangouts, Spaces, Allo, and Hangouts Chat.

Last year's Google messaging reshuffling saw the company kill Google Allo (AKA Google Messaging Platform 2016) and focus on Google Messages (the company's SMS client) in an effort to promote RCS. RCS, or Rich Communication Services, is a planned upgrade of the carrier-owned SMS service, and it has been around as a GSMA (the worldwide mobile network trade body) standard for several years now. RCS' goal is to bring very basic instant messaging features to carrier messaging—things like presence information, typing status, read receipts, and location sharing. Like a real chat app, RCS messages are sent over your data connection, and messages, photos, and videos all have bigger sizes.

In last year's plan (and every other plan involving RCS), the rollout was up to carriers. Every individual carrier on Earth had to individually go out and upgrade their SMS infrastructure to support RCS and the "Universal Profile," which is a federated system that lets RCS users on, say, Verizon, talk to RCS users on T-Mobile. With little monetary incentive to do so, the carriers have been extremely slow at upgrading. And even when a carrier is RCS-capable, carriers have been certifying RCS on a phone-by-phone basis.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Ars on your lunch break: The fate we might be making for ourselves

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 5:00pm

Enlarge / Suck it, Skynet.

Today we’re presenting the second installment of my conversation with Naval Ravikant about existential risks. Naval is one of tech’s most successful angel investors and the founder of multiple startups—including seed-stage investment platform AngelList. Part one of our conversation ran yesterday. If you missed it, click right here. Otherwise, you can press play on the embedded audio player or pull up the transcript—both of which are below.

Click here for a transcript and click here for an MP3 direct download.

This interview first appeared in March as two back-to-back episodes of the After On Podcast (which offers a 50-episode archive of unhurried conversations with world-class thinkers, founders, and scientists). As I mentioned in yesterday’s article, my conversation with Naval led to a last-minute invite to give a related talk at April’s TED conference. TED posted that talk to their site this morning, and if you feel like watching it, it’s right here:

"How synthetic biology could wipe out humanity—and how we can stop it."

My talk focuses on the dangers that abuses of synthetic biology technology could lead to. Naval and I will tackle that subject in our next two installments. Today, we focus on that time-honored Hollywood staple—super AI risk.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

In the not-so-distant future, “synbio” could lead to global catastrophe—maybe

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 5:00pm

Enlarge / Artist's impression of a post-superbug world. (This is the cover art for Stephen King's The Stand, a story wherein a genetically enhanced superflu causes the end of the world. thatsthejoke.gif.) (credit: John Cayea / Doubleday)

We're running a series of companion posts this week to accompany our special edition Ars Lunch Break podcast. This is the first of three guest posts centered around Rob's TED talk below. Tomorrow we'll have a post continuing the discussion from geneticist George Church, and Thusday we'll have one from microbiologist Andrew Hessel.

The H5N1 flu strain makes SARS and swine flu look almost cuddly. But though it kills higher percentages of infected patients than even Ebola, this ghastly flu variant claimed just five human lives over the past three years. Happily, it’s barely contagious amongst humans.

In 2011, two separate research teams—one in Holland, the other in Wisconsin—set out to repair this "defect" in H5N1. By carefully manipulating the bug’s genome, they soon had something just as lethal as the classic edition, but also wildly contagious. And if it escaped the lab, scientists believed it “would trigger an influenza pandemic, quite possibly with many millions of deaths,” according to the news arm of one of the world’s top academic journals, Science.

Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Facebook launches cryptocurrency with Visa, MasterCard, Uber, and others

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 4:54pm

Enlarge / Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2017. (credit: Mark Zuckerberg)

Facebook is leading a broad coalition of companies and organizations launching a new cryptocurrency, the company announced on Tuesday. The cryptocurrency, called Libra, will be backed by a basket of conventional currencies and other stable assets, preventing the wild price swings that have plagued bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies.

The new cryptocurrency will serve as the foundation for a new payment feature for Facebook Messenger and the Facebook-owned Whatsapp. Facebook says it is creating a new subsidiary called Calibra to oversee its payment initiatives. This is partly to reassure people who are concerned about Facebook's privacy record.

"Aside from limited cases, Calibra will not share account information or financial data with Facebook or any third party without customer consent," Facebook says. "This means Calibra customers’ account information and financial data will not be used to improve ad targeting on the Facebook family of products."

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Are Russian space satellites failing? It’s now harder to find out

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 3:00pm

Enlarge / Roscosmos Head Dmitry Rogozin before Russian-Chinese talks at the Moscow Kremlin in June. (credit: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images)

One of the key themes of HBO's new Chernobyl miniseries is the Soviet Union's control of information. As the television series shows, the state's warping of reality had very real consequences in terms of lives lost.

The control of information has continued into the modern Russian era, as the nation's state television network is now planning its own series to recount the Chernobyl incident. Reportedly, a central theme of the series to be shown to Russian viewers is that American operatives infiltrated the nuclear facility and orchestrated the disaster. (There appears to be no credible evidence that this actually happened.)

This predisposition to avoid or obfuscate information that could be embarrassing to the Russian state also evidently applies to the aerospace industry, with fresh reports from the country saying the leader of Russia's space corporation, Roscosmos, is limiting the flow of news about spaceflight activities.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The fourth Industrial revolution emerges from AI and the Internet of Things

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 2:00pm

Enlarge / Robots making things! (credit: Getty / Ekkasit Keatsirikul / EyeEm)

Big data, analytics, and machine learning are starting to feel like anonymous business words, but they're not just overused abstract concepts—those buzzwords represent huge changes in much of the technology we deal with in our daily lives. Some of those changes have been for the better, making our interaction with machines and information more natural and more powerful. Others have helped companies tap into consumers' relationships, behaviors, locations and innermost thoughts in powerful and often disturbing ways. And the technologies have left a mark on everything from our highways to our homes.

It's no surprise that the concept of "information about everything" is being aggressively applied to manufacturing contexts. Just as they transformed consumer goods, smart, cheap, sensor-laden devices paired with powerful analytics and algorithms have been changing the industrial world as well over the past decade. The "Internet of Things" has arrived on the factory floor with all the force of a giant electronic Kool-Aid Man exploding through a cinderblock wall.

Tagged as "Industry 4.0," (hey, at least it's better than "Internet of Things"), this fourth industrial revolution has been unfolding over the past decade with fits and starts—largely because of the massive cultural and structural differences between the information technology that fuels the change and the "operational technology" that has been at the heart of industrial automation for decades.

Read 32 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Cloudflare aims to make HTTPS certificates safe from BGP hijacking attacks

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 2:00pm

Enlarge (credit: nternet1.jpg by Rock1997 modified.)

Content delivery network Cloudflare is introducing a free service designed to make it harder for browser-trusted HTTPS certificates to fall into the hands of bad guys who exploit Internet weaknesses at the time the certificates are issued.

The attacks were described in a paper published last year titled Bamboozling Certificate Authorities with BGP. In it, researchers from Princeton University warned that attackers could manipulate the Internet’s border gateway protocol to obtain certificates for domains the attackers had no control over.

Browser-trusted certificate authorities are required to use a process known as domain control validation to verify that a person requesting a certificate for a given domain is the legitimate owner. It requires the requesting party to do one of three things:

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Girl, 12, flooded with beauty ads on Instagram

BBC Technology News - June 18, 2019 - 1:41pm
The ads were displayed to the young user despite Instagram's policies saying some should not be shown to her.

We may have inadvertently selected for muscles on dogs’ faces

Ars Technica - June 18, 2019 - 11:45am

Enlarge / A muscle flex raises the inner portions of the eyebrow at right. (credit: Waller et al.)

Humans domesticated dogs about 30,000 years ago. Since then, we've worked with them, hunted with them, played with them, and come to rely on them for companionship. And, in the process, we've bred them for everything from general cuteness to the ability to guard and fight for us. Figuring out who's manipulating whom and who's getting more out of the relationship is a hopeless task.

But that doesn't mean that some aspects of the changes dogs have undergone aren't amenable to study. After studying the facial muscles of dogs and wolves, a US-UK team of researchers has now found that dogs have two muscles that wolves mostly lack. These muscles control the movements of the face near the eyes, and the researchers suspect that the muscles' presence helps the dogs make a sad-eyed face that we find appealing.

A “take me home” look

The new work arose from an earlier paper done by several of the same researchers (Juliane Kaminski, Bridget Waller, and Anne Burrows). In it, they looked at what's technically called a "paedomorphic facial expression" in dogs. Paedomorphic means that adults retain features that are commonly associated with young animals—we tend to view these as cuter. In this case, the expression was raising the skin above the eyes, closer to the bridge of the nose. This expression, shown above, has been interpreted as "sad-eyed" and is thought to tug on humans' heart strings.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

US and Russia clash over power grid 'hack attacks'

BBC Technology News - June 18, 2019 - 11:20am
Russia has countered attempts to hack into its infrastructure, says Kremlin spokesman.

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