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Industry & Technology

Smart homes will turn dumb overnight as Charter kills security service

Ars Technica - 1 hour 40 min ago

Enlarge / A Charter Spectrum vehicle. (credit: Charter)

Charter is killing its home-security service and telling customers that security devices they've purchased will stop working once the service is shut down on February 5.

The impending shutdown and customers' anger at Charter—a cable company also known by the brand name "Spectrum"—has been widely reported over the past month. Over the years, some customers have spent large sums on products that will no longer work.

One user posting on a DSLReports forum said they spent $1,200 on sensors and IP cameras, which will be essentially useless in a couple of weeks. The devices won't connect to other alarm-monitoring services, and Charter will no longer offer the ability to remotely manage the system and view security video. (We're guessing a Charter alarm would still be able to make loud noises when someone breaks into a house, but that doesn't mean it'll work with an alarm-monitoring service.)

Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Biden wants Sec. 230 gone, calls tech “totally irresponsible,” “little creeps”

Ars Technica - 2 hours 11 min ago

Enlarge / Former Vice President Joe Biden poking at a mobile phone in October 2019. (credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP | Getty Images)

Former Vice President Joe Biden is calling for one of the primary laws defining how Internet content is regulated to be "revoked," adding that the "little creeps" who run some of Silicon Valley's biggest businesses aren't the economic powerhouses they think they are.

"I've never been a fan of Facebook, as you probably know. I've never been a big [Facebook CEO Mark] Zuckerberg fan," Biden began in response to tech questions posed by The New York Times. "I think he's a real problem."

"He [Zuckerberg] knows better," Biden elaborated, telling the Times, "Not only should we be worrying about the concentration of power, we should be worried about the lack of privacy and them being exempt."

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

SpaceX will shut down its rocket mid-flight to test Dragon’s escape system

Ars Technica - 2 hours 39 min ago

Enlarge / The Crew Dragon spacecraft sits atop a Falcon 9 rocket, with the crew access arm extended. (credit: SpaceX)

Officials from NASA and SpaceX said final preparations were underway for a critical flight test of Crew Dragon's launch escape system on Saturday morning from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The four-hour launch window opens at 8am ET (13:00 UTC), and SpaceX indicated it may use much of that time to find an ideal slot due to weather conditions.

At the beginning of the launch window, weather at the pad should be ideal, but forecasters have concerns about offshore winds and waves. Later in the morning on Saturday, weather at the recovery site is expected to improve, which means the launch may well slip closer to noon than the top of the window. SpaceX may also seek to extend the window, if necessary. If the launch slips a day, conditions are reversed Sunday, with less favorable weather at the launch site but better conditions offshore.

"It’s a nice dance between launch weather, optics, winds, and waves offshore," Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer with the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron, said during a briefing on Friday.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New Star Wars movie to be made by Thor: Ragnarok director?

Ars Technica - 2 hours 59 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Mandalorian Ragnarok)

Over the past few years, New Zealand's Taika Waititi has become one of our favorite directors here at Ars. And with good reason—his back catalogue of feature films includes Eagle vs Shark, Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok, and last year's controversial-but-excellent, Oscar-nominated Jojo Rabbit. And soon, we'll be able to add a Star Wars movie to that list. Unnamed sources have told the Hollywood Reporter that Waititi has been approached by Lucasfilm to develop a film that takes place in that galaxy far, far away.

This news follows a surprise tweet earlier this week from Phil Tippett, the stop-motion innovator whose work could be found all over the original Star Wars trilogy. He used the social media platform to laud the first season of Disney+ exclusive The Mandalorian, then implored showrunner Jon Favreau to hire Tippett to work on future episodes. As massive fans of Tippett’s work and of The Mandalorian’s focus on practical effects, we hope Favreau takes the tweet seriously (embedded below).

Congrats @Jon_Favreau on the amazing success of @themandalorian. It’s really something. Reminds me of our adventures making the original trilogy back in the day, shootin’ from the hip. I tell you, I’d love to come back on board and get my hands dirty with you guys!

— Phil Tippett (@PhilTippett) January 16, 2020

Meanwhile, Waititi is no stranger to the Star Wars universe. He not only appears in The Mandalorian—as assassin droid IG-11—he also directed the final episode of the first series. The Hollywood Reporter also speculates that The Mandalorian is being used by Lucasfilm and Disney as a training ground for new talent; Director Deborah Chow directed episodes 3 and 7 of the space western/space ronin show and is now going to direct an Obi-Wan Kenobi series starring Ewan McGregor, which will also air on Disney+.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Can Microsoft's 'moonshot' carbon goal succeed?

BBC Technology News - 3 hours 16 min ago
The tech giant admits its "carbon negative" goal is ambitious.

Game dev union leader: “Dream job” passion “can open us up to exploitation”

Ars Technica - 4 hours 10 min ago

Enlarge / The logo for the newly formed Campaign to Organize Digital Employees.

It's been almost two years now since the launch of Game Workers Unite (GWU), the most concerted effort yet to bring game developers to fight for better working conditions industry-wide. In the years since, we've seen a few stuttering steps toward collective action inside game studios, including an employee walkout at Blizzard to protest the company's controversial policy toward Hong Kong protesters and a walkout at Riot to protest proposed arbitration over sexual harassment allegations (that case was later settled without arbitration).

But while nearly half of developers supported the idea of unionizing in a GDC survey published last year, no major game studios have thus far announced formal plans to form a workers' union.

The industry's stalled labor effort got a potential shot in the arm last week, though, when GWU announced it is partnering with the Communication Workers of America (CWA) to form the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE). The move puts one of the country's biggest unions—with a reported 700,000 members represented across telecom, IT, news media, education, and more—squarely behind the effort to bring tech and gaming workers together for collective bargaining.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Report: Google wants to bring the Steam game store to… Chrome OS?

Ars Technica - 4 hours 40 min ago

Enlarge / Pictured: a hotrod gaming device. (credit: Valentina Palladino / Ron Amadeo)

We have a wild report from Android Police this morning, as the site claims that Google is working to bring official Steam support to Chrome OS. Yes, Valve's Steam. The gaming platform. On Chromebooks.

The story apparently comes from a direct source: Kan Liu, the director of product management for Chrome OS. During an interview with Liu at CES, the site says Liu "implied, though would not directly confirm, that Google was working in direct cooperation with Valve on this project." The idea is that, according the Liu, "gaming is the single most popular category of downloads for Play Store content on Chromebooks," and Steam would mean even more games.

Anyone can put Steam on Chrome OS now. Chrome OS supports Linux apps. Steam has a Linux client and sells Linux games. You can install Steam and use it as a Chrome OS game store right now. You wouldn't get the entire Windows collection of Steam games, but there is a modest-and-growing collection of games that support Linux. No one does this because Chromebooks are not gaming hardware. They usually have just enough GPU power to run YouTube, scroll a webpage, and that's about it—3D graphics are not really going to happen. To make matters worse, Chrome OS' hardware acceleration for the Linux sandbox is actually pretty bad, and nearly identical hardware can run games at a higher FPS using Windows or a real distribution of Linux.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

WeLeakInfo gets pwned by FBI; Dutch, Irish police arrest alleged breach brokers

Ars Technica - 5 hours 14 min ago

Enlarge / The seizure notice for WeLeakInfo even included the site's logo. Fancy.

On Wednesday, police in the Netherlands and Northern Ireland arrested two 22-year-old men believed to be connected to WeLeakInfo, a site offering usernames and passwords from multiple data breaches for sale. At the same time, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in coordination with the UK's National Crime Agency, the Netherlands National Police Corps, the German Bundeskriminalamt, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, took down the domain for the site, redirecting it to a seizure notice (shown above).

At first, some thought the takedown was simply a breach of the site itself—mostly because the FBI took the time to add the site's logo to the takedown notice.

There's a mess happening over at We Leak Info since yesterday. It looks like they got hacked, and someone threw up an FBI seizure page. The seizure notice doesn't look legit.

... Not a good look for them...https://t.co/XGGIRaJKQk #WeLeakInfo #WLI pic.twitter.com/SUzaAQD8Pd

— Cypher (@CryptoCypher) January 16, 2020

But on Thursday afternoon, the Justice Department announced the takedown and put out a call for further information on WeLeakInfo and its operators. WeLeakInfo claimed to have over 12 billion usernames and passwords from a collection of over 10,000 data breaches. Originally hosted at a Canadian hosting company's data center when set up in 2016, the domain was moved behind Cloudflare a day later. The site, originally advertised as "the most extensive private database search engine," purported to be a legitimate tool for companies to perform security research—even claiming to offer an application interface for performing bulk checks for breaches of company accounts.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Lexus had its European design team imagine vehicles for moon mobility

Ars Technica - 5 hours 26 min ago

I love a good concept car. And I'm pretty keen on space—Charlie Brown bears responsibility for getting me interested at a very early age. So obviously my interest was going to be piqued by an email from Lexus containing a bunch of design sketches from ED2, its European Advanced Design Studio thinking about what we might drive on the moon.

The designs—seven in total—were created by the design studio for an art and fashion publication called Document Journal, which invited a range of designers to imagine what life might be like on the moon. In Lexus' case, the inspiration was the company's recent LF-30 concept car; you may remember if from our coverage of last year's LA Auto Show.

"When Document Journal approached us about the Lunar Design Portfolio, our team was working on the LF-30 Concept, which represents the "Lexus Electrified" futuristic vision for Lexus. The design team was already looking beyond near-term production and ahead to how advanced technology will change the way we interact with vehicles," said Ian Cartabiano, President of ED2. "The lunar project came at the right time, half way through the LF-30 development. It gave the team a chance to dream further out, and then apply some of the design language from the LF- 30 interior to their lunar proposals."

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

X-rays reveal the faded colors of a 1,300-year-old Inca idol

Ars Technica - 6 hours 12 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Sepulveda et al. 2020)

The idol of Pachacamac was already 700 years old when Spanish conquistadors arrived in Peru, according to radiocarbon dating of the wood. People journeyed from all over the Andes to consult the statue, believed to be an important oracle of the Inca gods, leaving behind offerings of gold, silver, and valuable fabrics. In 1533, Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro ordered his followers to knock the oracle from its pedestal in front of horrified onlookers. Centuries later, microscopes and X-ray fluorescence shed light on the lost colors of Inca religious life.

Long-lost colors

After roughly 1,300 years, the carvings on the surface of the oracle still survive in rich detail. Two people in elaborate clothing stand side by side in the top section; one wears a headdress of feathers, and the other wears a snake headdress. On the much taller middle segment, richly attired people mingle with jaguars, two-headed snakes, and an assortment of human-headed animals, interspersed with geometric designs. The base is blank and probably once fit into a hole in a pedestal. But as elaborate as the carvings are, they’re missing something important: color.

Much of the color of the ancient world has been lost to us for centuries, and modern technologies are only starting to show us how vivid the past really was. Greek and Roman statues weren't sterile white; medieval cathedrals were full of color; and the animals, spirits, and people carved into the wood of the Pachacamac Idol once stood out in vivid red, white, and yellow.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Guidemaster: Smartwatches worthy of replacing your favorite timepiece

Ars Technica - 8 hours 2 min ago

Enlarge / The Apple Watch Series 5. (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Update: Our Smartwatch Guidemaster was originally published in February 2018. But recently, we've been looking back at all of the smartwatches we've tested in the past two years in order to update our picks. Below is our guide to the best smartwatches you can buy in January 2020.

If you hate looking at your smartphone all day, you should consider getting a smartwatch. While it may seem counterintuitive to get a new gadget to lessen your dependency on another, it can be more effective than you think. Smartwatches take the most crucial parts of a smartphone—call and text alerts, app notifications, and quick controls—and put them on your wrist.

That means no more fumbling with your smartphone during a meeting to silence a call, no more checking Twitter or Facebook every two minutes for the newest post. Instead of absentmindedly staring at your smartphone's display, the most important information hits your wrist as it happens. As wearables, smartwatches can also track daily activity, and some even double as high-end fitness watches equipped with heart rate monitors, GPS trackers, music storage, and more.

Read 30 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Girlsdoporn offline after losing legal battle

BBC Technology News - 9 hours 35 min ago
The site owners were ordered to pay $12.8m in damages to 22 women who appeared in videos it published.

Rocket Report: Russia talking big boosters, fly *us* to the Moon

Ars Technica - 9 hours 55 min ago

Enlarge / The Rocket Report is published weekly. (credit: Arianespace)

Welcome to Edition 2.28 of the Rocket Report! As we get deeper into 2020, we could see as many as a half-dozen new orbital rockets debut this year, with a mixture from the United States, China, Europe, and India. It will be fun to track how many of them—big and small—actually make it to the launch pad. And how many of them are successful, of course!

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

Read 24 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Researchers find serious flaws in WordPress plugins used on 400k sites

Ars Technica - 10 hours 10 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Frank Lindecke / Flickr)

Serious vulnerabilities have recently come to light in three WordPress plugins that have been installed on a combined 400,000 websites, researchers said. InfiniteWP, WP Time Capsule, and WP Database Reset are all affected.

The highest-impact flaw is an authentication bypass vulnerability in the InfiniteWP Client, a plugin installed on more than 300,000 websites. It allows administrators to manage multiple websites from a single server. The flaw lets anyone log in to an administrative account with no credentials at all. From there, attackers can delete contents, add new accounts, and carry out a wide range of other malicious tasks.

People exploiting the vulnerability need only know the user name of a valid account and include a malicious payload in a POST request that's sent to a vulnerable site. According to Web application firewall provider Wordfence, the vulnerability stems from a feature that allows legitimate users to automatically log in as an administrator without providing a password.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Social media data needed for 'harm' research, say doctors

BBC Technology News - 10 hours 20 min ago
Understanding usage by children is key to studying potential harms and benefits, psychiatrists say.

Facial recognition: EU considers ban of up to five years

BBC Technology News - 10 hours 28 min ago
The European Commission wants time to work out how to prevent the technology being abused.

Spotify's personalised playlist for pets and other news

BBC Technology News - 10 hours 30 min ago
BBC Click's Paul Carter looks at some of the best of the week's technology news.

Facebook blocks the Spinner's 'brainwashing' tech

BBC Technology News - 13 hours 17 min ago
Social network orders the Spinner to stop targeting its users with "disguised" ads.

Goop’s Netflix series: It’s so much worse than I expected and I can’t unsee it

Ars Technica - 13 hours 55 min ago

Enlarge / This is the exact moment in the goop lab's third episode in which Gwyneth Paltrow admits she doesn't know the difference between a vagina and a vulva. She's making a hand gesture to say what she thought the "vagina" was. (credit: Netflix)

Disclaimer: This review contains detailed information about the Netflix series the goop lab with Gwyneth Paltrow. If you plan to watch the show (please, don't) and do not wish to know details in advance, this is not the review for you. Normally, we would refer to such information as "spoilers," but in our editorial opinion, nothing in this series is spoil-able.

In the third episode of Goop's Netflix series, a female guest remarks that we women are seen as "very dangerous when we're knowledgeable." [Ep. 3, 33:35]

"Tell me about it," Gwyneth Paltrow knowingly replies amid "mm-hmms"—as if she has a first-hand understanding of this.

But after watching just a few minutes of any of the six episodes of the goop lab—or knowing pretty much anything about her pseudoscience-peddling "contextual commerce" company "Goop"—one might be skeptical that Paltrow has ever borne any such burden of knowledge in her life.

Read 68 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Mukesh Ambani: Asia's richest man in $13bn ruling boost

BBC Technology News - 15 hours 14 min ago
India's Supreme Court rejects telecom operator's plea for relief on government levies.

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