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Late last year, California experienced terrible—and in the case of the October Tubbs Fire, record-setting—wildfires. The fires were especially intense due to an unusually late start to the rainy season, which left vegetation dry as seasonal mountain winds kicked up like bellows in a forge.
This year, the situation has repeated. The Camp Fire in Northern California not only broke last year’s all-time record for structures burned, it also broke a much older record for the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history. And in Southern California, the Hill and Woolsey Fires have burned through homes on the north side of Los Angeles.
So what is going on with these extreme fires? Are they just chance or part of a trend? President Trump, via his Twitter account, has repeatedly blamed California for its fires and claimed that environmental policies for water use or forestry are somehow responsible. But these claims make no sense to anyone working in the state—or anyone who knows that forest fires aren’t put out by hose-carrying fire engines. In reality, many factors contribute to the current situation. And climate change is one of them.
Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today's list is headlined by a deal on Nvidia's Shield TV, which is currently down to $140. That's a $40 discount, tied for the lowest price we've seen for the 4K media streamer.
The Shield TV has been around for a few years, but it's still the box to own if you want Android TV. Nvidia continues to support the device with regular updates, and the hardware remains more than fast enough to keep everything smooth. While Roku and Amazon offer 4K HDR streamers for far less, the Shield is more flexible when it comes to local file support, with a couple of USB ports for connecting external peripherals and the ability to serve as its own Plex server.
It works with both the Google Assistant and Alexa—the latter requires a pre-existing Alexa device—and can be paired with a tuner to show live TV. The Shield also works like a pseudo game console with Nvidia's GeForce Now streaming service, though this deal doesn't include the company's game-controller accessory. The only glaring downside is that it lacks Dolby Vision HDR, unlike the Apple TV 4K.
A surprise showed up at my doorstep last night: the Fallout '76 "power armor" edition, arriving ahead of the game's official launch at 12:01am tomorrow morning (Wednesday, November 14). The PC version's $200 special edition has been sold out at many retailers for quite some time, as it was announced well before the game began receiving more public scrutiny. [Update: GameStop is still selling the console version of the set.]
But even though its sticker price includes a DLC-loaded version of the retail game, most of its cost is made up of Fallout series swag. Even if you're wary about the game's buggy beta period, is there still enough here to justify the insane cost for a series diehard?
It may come as a surprise that as of 2015, most of the water taken out of US ground- and surface-water sources was withdrawn by the electricity sector. Irrigation is a close second, and public supply is a distant third.
In 2015, thermal power generation—anything that burns fuel to create gas or steam that pushes a turbine—used 133 billion gallons of water per day. That water is mostly for cooling the equipment, but some of it is also used for emissions reduction and other processes essential to operating a power plant.
Those gallons are mostly freshwater, but some near-coast power generators do use saline or brackish water to operate. Much of the water is returned to the ecosystem, but some of it is also lost in evaporation. The water that is returned can often be thermally polluted, that is, it's warmer than what's ideal for the local ecosystem.
Just over a month since its initial release, Microsoft is making the Windows 10 October 2018 Update widely available today. The update was withdrawn shortly after its initial release due to the discovery of a bug causing data loss.
New Windows 10 feature updates use a staggered, ramping rollout, and this (re)release is no different. Initially, it'll be offered only to two groups of people: those who manually tell their system to check for updates (and that have no known blocking issues due to, for example, incompatible anti-virus software), and those who use the media-creation tool to download the installer. If all goes well, Microsoft will offer the update to an ever-wider range of Windows 10 users over the coming weeks.
For the sake of support windows, Microsoft is treating last month's release as if it never happened; this release will receive 30 months of support and updates, with the clock starting today. The same is true for related products; Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server, version 1809, are both effectively released today.
It has been a long wait for the final season of Game of Thrones, and sadly, the wait is not quite over yet. But HBO has thrown hungry fans a bone with a shiny new teaser trailer. There's no new footage from the upcoming episodes, but we do get one full minute featuring some of our favorite moments from seasons past.
(Some spoilers from prior seasons below.)
Game of Thrones is the HBO adaptation of George R.R. Martin's best-selling Song of Ice and Fire series of novels—for those of you who've been living under a rock since the show debuted in 2011 and turned into a bona fide global phenomenon. It's a ratings blockbuster for HBO that has won multiple Emmys and may be one of the most expensive TV series ever made, thanks to numerous film-quality battle scenes, CGI dragons, and a simply massive all-star cast of characters. Bonus: it's got a killer theme song and opening title sequence.
On November 6, Boeing issued an update to Boeing 737 MAX aircrews. The change, directed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), came because Boeing had never provided guidance to pilots on what to do when part of an updated safety system malfunctioned—the very scenario that the pilots of Indonesia's Lion Air Flight 610 faced on October 29. Not knowing how to correct for the malfunction, the aircrew and their passengers were doomed. All aboard were lost as the aircraft crashed into the Java Sea.
First approved for commercial operation by the FAA on March 8, 2017, the MAX is just beginning to be delivered in large volumes. Lion Air was one of Boeing's primary foreign customers for the MAX, which is also flown by Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Air Canada. The Lion Air aircraft lost in the accident was virtually brand new, delivered by Boeing in August; this was the first accident involving an aircraft touted for its safety.
Update: But Boeing never told pilots about one key new safety feature—an automated anti-stall system—or how to troubleshoot its failure. The manual update raised an outcry from pilots in the US.
Over the last year, Amazon has dangled in front of cities the possibility that they could host the company's "second headquarters"—a massive $5 billion facility that would provide 50,000 white-collar jobs. On Tuesday, Amazon confirmed what had been widely reported: nobody would be getting this massive prize. Instead, the expansion would be split in half, with New York City and Arlington, Virginia, (just outside Washington, DC) each getting smaller facilities that will employ around 25,000 people each.
Amazon's Seattle offices will continue to be the company's largest and will continue to be Amazon's headquarters by any reasonable definition. But pretending to have three "headquarters" undoubtedly makes it easier for Amazon to coax taxpayer dollars out of local governments.
The announcement is underwhelming in other ways, too. The Washington, DC, area has been widely seen as the frontrunner since the competition was announced last year. When Amazon announced a list of 20 finalists, the region claimed three of those 20 spots, with separate entries for Northern Virginia; Montgomery County, Maryland; and the district itself. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post in 2013 and bought the largest house in Washington, DC, in 2016.
Oakland, California, is just one of numerous American cities that have been transformed—for better or worse—by electric scooters.
Just earlier this month, a personal injury lawyer in Southern California filed a proposed class-action lawsuit seeking to take Bird, Lime, and the other scooter companies to task for their “draconian” terms of service.
Seeing our city streets become awash with these scooters almost overnight is something that local officials are trying to figure out how to deal with. Earlier this year, San Francisco famously imposed a moratorium while waiting to sort out a permitting process that would force companies to pay the city in order to operate their scooters about town.
Today, Google announced a new feature for its Project Fi cellular service: an always-on VPN. Project Fi's VPN previously was used to encrypt traffic while connecting to a network of free public Wi-Fi hotspots, but now Google will enable the VPN for all your traffic, be it over the LTE service or a Wi-Fi connection.
For now, the always-on VPN will need to be turned on in the Project Fi settings, where the feature is called "Enhanced Network" and labeled a "beta."
"When you enable our enhanced network, all of your mobile and Wi-Fi traffic will be encrypted and securely sent through our virtual private network (VPN) on every network you connect to, so you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that others can’t see your online activity," Google's blog post says. "That includes Google—our VPN is designed so that your traffic isn’t tied to your Google account or phone number."
Update, November 13: One of gaming's worst-kept secrets has finally been confirmed: PUBG is coming to PS4 consoles. Specifically, on December 7, for $29.99. As of press time, additional digital bundles can also be preordered for $50 and $70, and these include the game's variety of confusing microtransaction currencies.
With an admission that "this probably doesn't come as a surprise" (see original report below), PUBG Corp. made a Tuesday announcement that its one-versus-99 shooting sensation will include a few PlayStation-exclusive cosmetic bonuses for all PS4 preorders: a Nathan Drake (Uncharted) outfit and an Ellie (The Last of Us) backpack.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson yesterday urged Congress to pass net neutrality and consumer data privacy laws that would prevent states from issuing their own stricter laws.
"There are a number of states that are now passing their own legislation around privacy and, by the way, net neutrality," Stephenson said in an interview at a Wall Street Journal tech conference (see video). "What would be a total disaster for the technology and innovation you see happening in Silicon Valley and elsewhere is to pick our head up and have 50 different sets of rules for companies trying to operate in the United States."
There was a single US standard for net neutrality passed by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015. But AT&T and other ISPs opposed it and sued the FCC in a failed effort to get the regulation thrown out by a court.
During a meeting this weekend at RSC Energia, the prime contractor for Russia's crewed spaceflight program, the discussion turned toward development of the Federation spacecraft. This is the oft-delayed program to develop a new generation of crewed spacecraft for the Russian space industry.
Dmitry Rogozin, the leader of Russia's space program, Roscosmos, was apparently not pleased with ongoing delays to the program. First initiated more than a decade ago, the Federation spacecraft now is unlikely to fly humans before 2023.
Rogozin made the following comments after one of the Federation engineers suggested that, perhaps, time could be saved in the spacecraft's development by reducing the number of tests of its emergency escape system.
Small repair shops and tech enthusiasts who attempt to fix their new Apple devices may be taking a serious risk in doing so. According to a report from The Verge, Apple confirmed that its new T2 security chip is designed to lock down devices after repair if it doesn't recognize certain authorized replacement parts.
Word of this new policy came out last month in an Apple document circulated among authorized service providers. In order to replace certain hardware components, such as the Touch ID sensor or the logic board on new Macs, the provider must run a specific piece of diagnostic software.
This program, called "AST 2 System Configuration," works in conjunction with the T2 security chip. If this step isn't performed on devices with the T2 chip, it could result in an inoperable machine.
The holiday season is fast approaching, which means it's once again time for the world to come together in a spirited embrace of consumerism. Or, perhaps in a more cheerful alternative, it's time to again think about what gifts your loved ones might like. Thankfully, your friends at Ars are back with recommendations that won't disappoint, since they're based on months of testing and toying with the many things that have hit our desks around the Orbiting HQ.
Today, Ars has put together the first in a series of holiday gift guides we'll roll out in the coming weeks. For 2018, we're covering everything from board games to office gifts to things for the fellow Ars reader (or at least Ars reader type) in your life. But with holiday travel planning already in full swing, we're starting with portable gear: gift ideas for things you can easily carry on your person and take on the go if need be. Here's hoping something below can serve your loved ones well on their next road trip.
Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.
Google lost control of several million of its IP addresses for more than an hour on Monday in an event that intermittently made its search and other services unavailable to many users and also caused problems for Spotify and other Google cloud customers. While Google said it had no reason to believe the mishap was a malicious hijacking attempt, the leak appeared suspicious to many, in part because it misdirected traffic to China Telecom, the Chinese government-owned provider that was recently caught improperly routing traffic belonging to a raft of Western carriers though mainland China.
The leak started at 21:13 UTC when MainOne Cable Company, a small ISP in Lagos, Nigeria, suddenly updated tables in the Internet’s global routing system to improperly declare that its autonomous system 37282 was the proper path to reach 212 IP prefixes belonging to Google. Within minutes, China Telecom improperly accepted the route and announced it worldwide. The move by China Telecom, aka AS4809, in turn caused Russia-based Transtelecom, aka AS20485, and other large service providers to also follow the route.
According to BGPmon on Twitter, the redirections came in five distinct waves over a 74-minute period. The redirected IP ranges transmitted some of Google's most sensitive communications, including the company's corporate WAN infrastructure and the Google VPN. This graphic from regional Internet registry RIPE NCC shows how the domino effect played out over a two-hour span. The image below shows an abbreviated version of those events.
Amazon has reportedly selected two joint sites for its second headquarters, or HQ2: Long Island City—a neighborhood in Queens, New York City—and Crystal City, Virginia, adjacent to Washington DC.
In January 2018, 20 "finalist" cities were named, including Raleigh, Toronto, Chicago, and Atlanta, among others.
Three film and TV studios elected to dump their latest trailers online on Monday, as opposed to spreading the love out over the week. Alone, each trailer is intriguing, but their combined nerd power lets us glimpse what's to come from three world premieres.
The highlight of this year's Veterans Day trailer explosion is Detective Pikachu, a live-action (and decidedly Western) take on the odd video game of the same name. That title means a few things. First, like the game, this fork of the Pokemon universe appears to exist outside the collect-'em-all series' game and anime entries. That means there's no sign of familiar human characters like Ash, Daisy, Brock, or Team Rocket.
Archaeologists discovered dozens of mummified cats in seven previously undisturbed tombs in a 4,500-year-old pyramid complex near Saqqara, south of Cairo. The cats were found along with a collection of mummified scarab beetles, gilded wood cat statues, painted animal sarcophagi, and other artifacts.Sacred to Bastet
Today, dozens of intact mummies of any species are a relatively rare find for archaeologists, but mummifying cats and other animals was a common practice in Egypt for thousands of years. The Saqqara cats, like millions of others throughout Egyptian history, would have been bred and raised for eventual mass sacrifice to the protective goddess Bastet, who often appears in Egyptian art as a woman with the head of a lioness or, after about 1000 BCE, a domestic cat.
Most of those once-common mummies were lost to rampant looting across the centuries, which peaked between the 1700s and early 1900s. Europeans looted hundreds of thousands of animal mummies, including baboons, cats, crocodiles, and ibises, most of which were destroyed to make fertilizer.
For the first time, Facebook has agreed to allow French regulators to work closely with the company as a way to monitor what actions it's taking to combat hate speech. If necessary, France could impose further regulations on the social media giant.
In a French-language speech before the Internet Governance Forum held in Paris on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that the two sides would work together for six months starting in early 2019 to come up with "joint, precise, and concrete" proposals that both Menlo Park and Paris could agree with.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) November 12, 2018
"There's a Californian Internet and a Chinese Internet," he explained, urging those in attendance to seek a middle-ground "European" model.