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"By design, Signal does not have a record of your contacts, social graph, conversation list, location, user avatar, user profile name, group memberships, group titles, or group avatars," Joshua Lund, a Signal developer wrote. "The end-to-end encrypted contents of every message and voice/video call are protected by keys that are entirely inaccessible to us. In most cases now we don’t even have access to who is messaging whom."
Lund is referring to a recent law passed in Australia that will fine companies that do not comply with government demands for encrypted data up to AUS$10 million.
Computing pioneer Evelyn Berezin died at 93 this week. She was most known as the designer of the first true word-processing computer. But she designed many other innovative computing systems and helmed Redactron Corporation, a company that helped transform offices by producing and distributing her word-processor device.
Born to Jewish immigrants from Russia in New York City in 1925, Berezin earned a BA in physics at NYU before working throughout the 1950s and 1960s designing early computing systems. She had become interested in physics after reading her brother's science-fiction periodicals.
In the earlier years of her career, she worked amidst a wave of innovation and new possibilities that came with the arrival of transistors. Among her early accomplishments was an airline reservations system for United Airlines, which "served 60 cities throughout the United States with a one-second response time and with no central system failures in 11 years of operation," according to the Computer History Museum.
As a concept, KeyForge is enthralling. The game is the latest effort from legendary Magic: The Gathering designer Richard Garfield—and the big idea here is that every sealed deck is unique. Decks are pre-constructed and can’t be altered; there’s no card chasing, and there’s certainly no over-arching “meta” game that must be respected. This is a head-to-head two-player battler like no other.
The “unique” gimmick is great. The initial card pool numbers 370, and each 37-card deck you snag off the shelf consists of a completely one-of-a-kind mixture. This is accomplished via cryptic algorithms that govern deck construction. These 37 cards become your deck, your personalized slice of KeyForge that no one can take away. The bizarre naming conventions of each set only further the mystique and foster an emotional attachment to your cards.Keys and vaults
Yes, there is a setting for KeyForge, but it’s almost irrelevant. Your deck represents the followers and the abilities of an Archon, an all-powerful being. These Archons live and die in the artificial world of the Crucible. This maelstrom is a ravaged place where champions scavenge keys in hope of unlocking hallowed vaults. So we battle as we always do.
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has spread to a city of nearly 1 million residents. There are now 30 confirmed cases and 15 deaths in the city of Butembo reported in the latest update provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). The number of cases in the city center is still low, according to Doctors Without Borders, but that number is rising quickly in more outlying districts and suburbs.
The outbreak, which has been going on since August, has so far resulted in 467 confirmed cases and a further 48 probable cases. More than half of the cases have resulted in death (including those of 17 health workers), while 177 patients have recovered, including a newborn baby.Limited containment
The rate of transmission is beginning to slow down in Beni, a smaller city approximately 36 miles north of Butembo that has the highest number of reported cases so far. But “the outbreak is intensifying in Butembo and Katwa,” writes the WHO, “and new clusters are emerging elsewhere.”
In October, we finally got a chance to drive the Hyundai Kona EV, a rather wonderful little electric vehicle. Based on the internal combustion-powered Kona, it packs in 64kWh of lithium-ion to give it an EPA range of 258 miles (415km). On top of that, the little Kona EV also sported a rather nifty Smart Regeneration System that uses the car's cruise control radar to maximize energy recuperation when following other cars. The one thing we couldn't tell you back then was how much this EV would cost.
Wonder no more. On Friday, Hyundai finally revealed US pricing: the 2019 Kona EV will start at $36,450, which means it should cost $28,950 after the $7,500 IRS tax credit is taken into account. (On top of that, there's the delivery charge, which bumps the post-credit price up to $29,995.)
That makes it more expensive than the base model Nissan Leaf, which starts at $29,990 before tax credits. However, the Leaf only offers 150 miles (241km) of range, and you'd need to spring for the $36,200 Leaf SL to get a similar level of equipment to the Hyundai. (A longer-range, more expensive Leaf with a 60kWh battery pack is coming at some point in 2019, but that adds $5,500 to the car's price.)
Most of the motorsports world takes a well-deserved break in December. The long Formula 1 championship is done, as is the even longer NASCAR season. But this weekend, one series is about to get started: it's time for Formula E, which holds its first race of the 2018/2019 championship on Saturday. This is the fifth season for this electric racing championship, and it represents a new chapter for the sport as Formula E gets all-new cars and adds some new cities to the roster (including this weekend's race, which takes place in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia).
Here at Ars, we've been fans of the all-electric racing series from day one. We were at the first-ever US race in Miami in 2015, and that same year two of the cars even carried our logo at the season finale in London. Since then, we've been regulars at the NYC ePrix, a two-day doubleheader that marks the conclusion of the championship. Electric cars racing on temporary street circuits in city centers represented quite a departure from your average racing series, and it's fair to say that Formula E has had to deal with a lot of skeptics. But we like people who try new things, and, over the course of the past four years, the sport has done a lot to win many naysayers over.
Another day, another privacy issue with Facebook.
The company announced Friday morning that a photo API bug might have resulted in millions of people having their private photos become improperly accessible by up to 1,500 apps for a period of 12 days in September 2018.
As Facebook described it in a blog post by Tomer Bar, a company staffer:
One of our favorite streaming shows of the last few years has been time-travel adventure Travelers.
The world of the future is in some ill-defined crisis, and the only way this can be averted is to send people back in time to make better decisions. But in a Quantum Leap-style twist, only people's consciousnesses can be sent back in time. To minimize disruption to the timelines, the mastermind of this plan, the Director, uses people who were just about to die as its targets, narrowly averting their deaths (at least most of the time) and allowing a traveler to resume their life.
Discord has announced that it will start taking a reduced, 10-percent cut from game revenues generated on its online store starting next year, one-upping the Epic Games Store and its recently announced 12-percent cut on the Epic Games Store.
"We talked to a lot of developers, and many of them feel that current stores are not earning their 30% of the usual 70/30 revenue share," Discord writes in the announcement. "Because of this, we now see developers creating their own stores and launchers to distribute their games instead of focusing on what’s really important—making great games and cultivating amazing communities.
"Turns out, it does not cost 30% to distribute games in 2018," the announcement continues. "After doing some research, we discovered that we can build amazing developer tools, run them, and give developers the majority of the revenue share."
Blizzard may only have seven active games listed on its Battle.net launcher at the moment, but that list includes some of the biggest in the gaming world. So when the company announces it's shifting its development priorities away from one of those ongoing online titles, it's a big deal.
So it is with last night's surprise update on the status of Blizzard-universe MOBA Heroes of the Storm. Blizzard now says "we need to take some of our talented developers and bring their skills to other projects," and thus have "made the difficult decision to shift some developers from Heroes of the Storm to other teams."
This doesn't mean the immediate end of the game or anything of the sort. Blizzard promises continued active support, "with new heroes, themed events, and other content that our community loves, though the cadence will change." We're guessing that last part means the "cadence" will get less frequent, for what it's worth.
Apple's patent battle with Qualcomm in China has intensified this week, with Qualcomm seeking a broader ban and Apple claiming it has a workaround to avoid Qualcomm's patents.
On Monday, Qualcomm announced that a Chinese court had banned the sale of most iPhone models. However, Apple's newest models, the iPhone XS and XR, were not covered by the ban because they had not yet been introduced when Qualcomm filed its lawsuit late last year.
Qualcomm remedied that oversight this week, asking the same Chinese court to ban sales of the XS and XR.
According to the lawsuit, Abdeljabbar et al. v. Lyft, which was filed in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, drivers are being paid “less than $8 per hour.” That’s far less than the California minimum wage of $11 per hour, and even further behind the minimum in some other Golden State cities, which mandate even higher pay.
A substantial portion of the drivers' lawsuit is based on a May 2018 decision by the California Supreme Court known as Dynamex.
2019 is going to be the year of 5G—at least, that's what the cellular industry keeps saying. We're going to see the launch of several 5G smartphones from OEMs like Samsung, Motorola, and OnePlus, and carriers will be tripping over themselves to tell you how awesome their new 5G networks are despite coming with a slew of asterisks. I would like to make something up about how ridiculous the 5G hype has gotten, but it's hard to top actual quotes from industry executives, like Verizon's claim that 5G will "dramatically improve our global society." Faster mobile Internet is coming, but should you care about it yet?
Qualcomm recently had its big 2019 chip announcement, and as the world's biggest provider of smartphone chips, that gives us a good idea of what the upcoming 5G hardware will look like. The industry is doing its best to hype 5G up as The Next Big Thing™, but 5G hardware in 2019 is going to be a decidedly first-generation affair. Early adopters for 5G will have to accept all manner of tradeoffs. And when there might not even be 5G reception in your area, it might be better to just wait the whole thing out for a year or two.A 5G mmWave primer: Making use of the spectrum that nobody wanted
"5G" is a shorthand reference to the next generation of cellular network technology that is launching in 2019. The whole "G" naming scheme started in the 1990s with the launch of GSM, which was called the "second generation"—aka "2G"—of mobile networking technology. GSM upgraded early networks from analog to digital, and those old analog networks were retroactively given the name "1G." Since then, we've gotten new "G" numbers with major coordinated network upgrades about every 10 years. These iterations brought important features like SMS and MMS messages, IP-based networking and mobile Internet, and, of course, more speed.
I'll keep this glowing review short for two reasons: because I'm on vacation, and because there's not much I need to say to make my point.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is right up there with Black Panther and Deadpool 2 as one of the best comic book adaptations in theaters this year. What's more, it's easily the best comic-nerd film in years to warmly embrace the kinds of viewers who know their comics canon front and back, all without intimidating the inevitable kid and newbie viewers attracted to this incredibly family-friendly adventure.Miles and Peter and Gwen and...
Welcome to Edition 1.29 of the Rocket Report! This week, we send our hearty congratulations to Virgin Galactic, which reached an important milestone Thursday with its first flight above 80km. We also have some good news on the commercial crew front, with multiple flights looking promising for 2019.
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.
Virgin flies into space (probably). With Mark "Forger" Stucky and C.J Sturckow piloting the vehicle, the VSS Unity vehicle was dropped from its White Knight Two carrier aircraft on Thursday before burning its rocket motor. During that 60-second burn, it reached a velocity of Mach 2.9 and soared to an altitude of 82.68km. These were records for the company, which may begin flying space tourists in 2019.
Currently, the world is struggling to keep its carbon emissions from rising. But to reach the longer-term goals we have for stabilizing the climate, we're going to have to do far more than roll out some renewable energy. Keeping the earth from warming by 2°C above preindustrial temperatures means a deep decarbonization of our energy use. Which means that we not only have to go fully carbon neutral in generating electricity, but we have to start using those emissions-free electrons to handle our heating and transportation needs.
For things like cars and buses, that process has already started. But there's one weight-sensitive mode of transportation where batteries may not be able to bail us out: air travel. The relatively low energy density of batteries means that you need a lot of them—plus the weight and space they take up—to power an aircraft. For this reason, many people have decided that we'll need biofuels to power air travel. Yet there are companies that are planning to develop electric passenger aircraft.
So who's being realistic? To find out, an international team has done an evaluation of whether battery-powered electric aircraft can become viable and when it's possible they'll reach the market.
A tsunami of emailed bomb threats is prompting closures at hospitals, schools, public transit agencies, and businesses across the US and Canada.
Word of the emails surfaced Thursday morning in tweets such as this one:
So I actually just got a bomb threat in my work email today ordering me to send the person $20,000 via bitcoin or they will blow up my place of work.... 2018 is wild pic.twitter.com/sn0vVLwe6v
— Ryan William Grant (@TheeRyanGrant) December 13, 2018
And this one:
A recent phishing campaign targeting US government officials, activists, and journalists is notable for using a technique that allowed the attackers to bypass two-factor authentication protections offered by services such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail, researchers said Thursday. The event underscores the risks of 2fa that relies on one-tap logins or one-time passwords, particularly if the latter are sent in SMS messages to phones.
Attackers working on behalf of the Iranian government collected detailed information on targets and used that knowledge to write spear-phishing emails that were tailored to the targets’ level of operational security, researchers with security firm Certfa Lab said in a blog post. The emails contained a hidden image that alerted the attackers in real time when targets viewed the messages. When targets entered passwords into a fake Gmail or Yahoo security page, the attackers would almost simultaneously enter the credentials into a real login page. In the event targets’ accounts were protected by 2fa, the attackers redirected targets to a new page that requested a one-time password.
“In other words, they check victims’ usernames and passwords in realtime on their own servers, and even if 2 factor authentication such as text message, authenticator app or one-tap login are enabled they can trick targets and steal that information too,” Certfa Lab researchers wrote.
Verizon is parting ways with 10,400 employees in "a voluntary separation program," despite the Trump administration providing a tax cut and various deregulatory changes that were supposed to increase investment in jobs and broadband networks. The cuts represent nearly seven percent of Verizon's workforce and were announced along with a $4.6 billion charge related to struggles in Verizon's Yahoo/AOL business division.
Verizon described the voluntary buyouts as well as ongoing Yahoo/AOL failures in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Tuesday. The buyouts affect "US-based management employees" in multiple business segments, not just Yahoo and AOL.
Here's what Verizon says about its Yahoo/AOL problem:
As President Donald Trump threatened to allow a government shutdown if Congress did not provide funding for his proposed wall along the Mexican border, a Republican congressman from Ohio offered up alternative routes to getting the wall built: through Internet crowdfunding or through an initial coin offering.
During an interview with NPR's Morning Edition on December 12, Rep. Warren Davidson said that he had offered what he referred to as a "modest proposal" in the form of his "Buy a Brick, Build a Wall Act." The bill, which he submitted on November 30, would authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to accept monetary gifts from anyone "on the condition that it be used to plan, design, construct, or maintain a barrier along the international border between the United States and Mexico." The funds would go into an account called the "Border Wall Trust Fund," and a public website would be set up to process donations electronically.
Rep. Davidson told NPR's Steve Inskeep that the donations could come from anyone and be gathered in a number of ways."You could do it with this sort of, like, crowdfunding site," Davidson explained. "Or you could do it with blockchain—you could have Wall Coins."