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Instagram: Facebook probes breach of millions of influencer accounts

BBC Technology News - May 21, 2019 - 7:57pm
An Indian company had stored the data of 49 million Instagram users in an unguarded online database.

Drink like it’s 1985: Coca-Cola revives New Coke for Stranger Things 3

Ars Technica - May 21, 2019 - 7:10pm

New Coke, Stranger Things-style

Stranger Things season 3 is coming to Netflix this July 4, and it's going to be set in the year 1985. As a period detail, the show is going to make reference to New Coke, a disastrous 1980s effort from Coca-Cola to update its namesake drink. For those not old enough to remember, New Coke was met with a massive consumer backlash and a very public climbdown by the company.

But to commemorate New Coke's newfound pop culture relevance, Coca-Cola is going to sell 500,000 cans of New Coke as a Stranger Things tie-in. They'll go on sale online on Thursday May 23 at 17:00 EDT. The resurrected drink is also going to be available at World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta on certain days starting June 3. Cans will carry special Stranger Things promotional designs, and the company has even remade its original New Coke ad to add a Stranger Things twist. The ad will be shown in cinemas.

Marketing tie-ins and product placements happen all the time with major pop culture entities. And normally, a soft drink would do little to deserve such prominent placement in a TV show. But of course, New Coke is no ordinary soft drink; it was a major news story for the three months or so that it was on the market at the time.

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FDA safety scandal: 50K hidden reports of heart device malfunctioning

Ars Technica - May 21, 2019 - 7:00pm

Enlarge / The Food and Drug Administration headquarters in White Oak, Md. (credit: Getty | Congressional Quarterly)

The Food and Drug Administration allowed the maker of a faulty implantable heart device to secretly log 50,000 malfunction incidents, according to a series of investigations by Kaiser Health News.

The device—the Sprint Fidelis, made by Medtronic—consists of a pair of wires and a defibrillator to jolt the heart into a regular rhythm. But doctors found that it was giving patients random, harmful zaps and sometimes failed during actual cardiac emergencies.

Medtronic recalled the device in 2007 but only after it was implanted in around 268,000 patients. Many of those patients have since faced the ghastly choice of learning to live with the faulty device or undergoing an invasive, risky—sometimes deadly—surgery to remove it. According to the KHN investigation, they’ve been making that choice without information from the 50,000 incident reports.

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X-rays reveal the colors of a 3 million-year-old fossil mouse

Ars Technica - May 21, 2019 - 6:45pm

Enlarge / A false color synchrotron X-ray image of the fossil chemistry. Blue represents calcium in the bones, green is the element zinc, which has been shown to be important in the biochemistry of red pigment, and red is a particular type of organic sulfur that cannot be imaged by traditional methods. This type of sulfur is enriched in red pigment. When combined, regions rich in both zinc and sulfur appear yellow on this image, showing that the fur on this animal was rich in the chemical compounds that are most probably derived from the original red pigments produced by the mouse. (credit: Wogelius et al. 2019)

Here's something you don't hear often: the dead field mouse looks incredible for its age. It lived and died three million years ago in what is now Germany, but layers of rock preserved nearly its whole skeleton, along with most of the fur and skin on its body, feet, and tail. Even its tiny, delicate ears were preserved.

Thanks to new imaging methods and a better understanding of the chemistry behind pigment in animal fur and feathers, we now know that it had reddish-brown fur with a white underbelly. Paleontologists have had the tools to detect patterns of light and dark coloring in fossil feathers for a few years, but this is their first real glimpse of a colored pigment.

It comes in colors

The range of colors in animal fur comes from varying amounts of two types of a pigment called melanin. Eumelanin produces black or dark brown coloring, while pheomelanin creates reddish or yellow hues. Pheomelanin doesn’t tend to hold up well over the millions of years most fossils are buried; eumelanin is more sturdy, which is why we have a decent idea about the patterns of light and dark in the feathers of Archaeopteryx and some of the other ancestors of today’s birds.

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Microsoft kicks off the rollout of the Windows 10 May Update 1903

ZDnet Blogs - May 21, 2019 - 6:42pm
Microsoft's Windows 10 May Update/1903 is available to consumers and business customers as of today, May 21. It's available through WSUS, Windows Update for Business and VLSC starting today, too.
Categories: Opinion

Apple refreshes MacBook Pro with updated keyboard, 8-core 9th-gen Intel CPUs

Ars Technica - May 21, 2019 - 6:40pm

Enlarge / The 2017 and 2018 15-inch MacBook Pros side by side. Each has a butterfly keyboard. (credit: Samuel Axon)

In the second update to the current crop of MacBook Pros since they were released in July 2018, Apple this week has expanded the available CPU options for both the 13-inch and 15-inch models. The 15-inch MacBook Pro has moved to Intel's 9th generation CPUs and offers 8-core options for the first time in the product line's history. The 13-inch saw a more modest CPU specifications bump. The MacBook Pro's price points remain the same.

Just as importantly, Apple has made another update to its butterfly keyboards in the MacBook Pro. This marks the fourth generation of the butterfly keyboard that has divided users and seen some widely publicized hardware failures that resulted in an ongoing repair program from Apple. Apple claimed significant improvements to reliability in the third generation that shipped with laptops introduced in 2018, but users continued to report issues.

Apple says it has changed the material it is using in the new, fourth-generation keyboards, and the company expects the change to substantially reduce the prevalence of issues with keys double-typing without user input or failing to type at all with user input. The company hasn't yet gotten more specific than that, so we'll have to wait on teardowns and testing to learn more.

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Huawei’s US ban: A look at the hardware (and software) supply problems

Ars Technica - May 21, 2019 - 6:35pm

President Trump's Huawei ban is in full effect, and companies from all over the country are announcing they will no longer be doing business with Huawei. Google, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Intel are all cutting ties with Huawei, and once this new 90-day exemption is up, really every US company would no longer be allowed to supply Huawei with technology or services. Trump's executive order is very broad, prohibiting "any acquisition, importation, transfer, installation, dealing in, or use of any information and communications technology or service" by any foreign company the US government deems a threat, in this case, Huawei.

With Huawei cut off from US technology, exactly how hard will it be for the company to continue to make smartphones? For an idea of how much Huawei would need to change, let's do a parts audit on the company's latest flagship smartphone, the Huawei P30 Pro. We'll see where each component comes from and what other options exist out there in the ecosystem. Between spec sheets, teardowns from iFixit, and EE Times, we can whip together a pretty good list of components and their countries of origin.

The Power of HiSilicon

(credit: Huawei)

The System on a Chip is the heart of any smartphone, supplying most of your basic three-letter computer components like the CPU, GPU, LTE modem, GPS, and more. Huawei is better off than most companies in this area—it's one of the few companies (along with Samsung) that has its own chip-design division. Huawei's "HiSilicon" group designs SoCs for its smartphones, and the Huawei P30 Pro uses the HiSilicon Kirin 980 SoC. HiSilicon has its own LTE modem solution and is a leader in 5G modems.

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See how much faster Sony’s next PlayStation can load Spider-Man

Ars Technica - May 21, 2019 - 6:25pm

Sony's official video comparing performance of PS4 Pro vs next-gen PlayStation pic.twitter.com/2eUROxKFLq

— Takashi Mochizuki (@mochi_wsj) May 21, 2019

Last month, Sony showed Wired a demo highlighting how the PS4's successor would utilize SSD storage to heavily improve load times over the PS4. Now we can all see a similar demo for ourselves, thanks to video captured at a recent investor presentation.

The video above, taken by the Wall Street Journal's Takashi Mochizuki, shows a scene from Insomniac's Spider-Man loading in 0.83 seconds on Sony's "next generation" console, compared to 8.1 seconds on the PS4 Pro. That's a smaller improvement than the one cited by Wired (which reported a change from "15 seconds" to "0.8 seconds, to be exact") but it's still a difference that can add up over the course of hours spent with a game.

Sony's demo also showed how the upcoming console's SSD can help improve game situations where content is streamed continuously from the hard drive rather than loaded in large chunks. In a fly-through on Spider-Man's version of New York City, a PS4 Pro had to pause every few seconds when the apparent flight speed got too fast. On the next PlayStation, the data streams without any apparent loading pauses even at the increased speed.

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European elections 2019: Change UK increases Facebook ad spend

BBC Technology News - May 21, 2019 - 6:25pm
Change UK has spent more than £60,000 in the past week on the platform, while UKIP spent under £100.

Bleach peddled as 'miracle' autism cure on YouTube

BBC Technology News - May 21, 2019 - 6:17pm
An investigation by Business Insider led the site to take down most - but not all - of the videos.

Driverless cars: Cambridge University model cars 'talk' to avoid jams

BBC Technology News - May 21, 2019 - 6:14pm
Researchers say it shows driverless cars working together could improve traffic flow by at least 35%.

Black Mirror S5 is almost here and Netflix just dropped three new trailers

Ars Technica - May 21, 2019 - 6:06pm

Nicole Beharie and Anthony Mackie star in "Striking Vipers," one of three new episodes in the upcoming fifth season of the Netflix anthology series Black Mirror.

The long-awaited fifth season of Black Mirror debuts next month, and Netflix just released three—count 'em—new one-minute trailers to stoke fans' anticipation.

Black Mirror is the creation of Charlie Brooker, co-showrunner with Annabel Jones. The series explores the darker side of technology and its impact on people's lives in the near future, and it's in the spirit of classic anthology series like The Twilight Zone. Brooker developed Black Mirror to highlight topics related to humanity's relationship to technology, creating stories that feature "the way we live now—and the way we might be living in 10 minutes' time if we're clumsy." The series debuted on the British Channel 4 in December 2011, followed by a second season. Noting its popularity, Netflix took over the series in 2015, releasing longer seasons 3 and 4 in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

The first season 5 teaser dropped last week, showcasing an impressive cast that includes Anthony Mackie, Miley Cyrus, Topher Grace, Nicole Beharie, Damson Idris, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, among others. We only caught glimpses of what the three episodes might be about, and now we have a separate trailer for each yielding a bit more information.

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Microsoft: Gaming should be for everyone, shouldn’t be toxic stew

Ars Technica - May 21, 2019 - 5:56pm

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft's Xbox chief Phil Spencer has written a paean to video gaming, calling games a unifying force that anyone and everyone can enjoy. He rejoices in gaming's ability to sustain communities, foster friendships, and even reduce stress and depression. He also describes the shift gaming has made; games aren't just the domain of teenage boys but have grown far beyond that: most gamers are adults, and nearly half are women.

But against these positive elements, Spencer recognizes the many flaws in the gaming community. Online life as a whole includes a "growing toxic stew of hate speech, bigotry, and misogyny," he writes, but games can be part of the solution. Spencer says that games have a uniquely equalizing ability to bring people together—we're all just names on a screen, substantially eroding differences in class, race, gender, and so on—and so present an environment that can help dismantle prejudice.

The purpose of his essay is to call on the gaming industry to work together to make gaming a safe space, one where gaming's positive features can be celebrated, without being mired in the same toxicity as contaminates the rest of the online world. To that end, he outlines three principles he wants the games industry to follow.

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Natural cycles had little to do with 20th-century temperature trends

Ars Technica - May 21, 2019 - 5:46pm

Enlarge (credit: UpNorthMemories)

Reconstructing crime scenes is more or less what most geoscientists do for a living. Sometimes the “whodunnit” revolves around a mass extinction event 66 million years ago, and sometimes it’s about an extreme weather pattern just last week. But as with a homicide investigation, geologists also have to consider natural causes.

A new study led by the University of Oxford’s Karsten Haustein takes a look at the influence of natural causes on the temperatures of the last century. While natural variability inherent to the climate system was thought to play a role in some features of our temperature record, the new results suggest that the record is dominated by external forces—though some of those are natural, too.

Explaining wiggles

It’s well-established that human activities are the dominant cause of recent climate change. But looking at the instrumental temperature record, which goes back to the late 1800s, there are significant wiggles that look curious. Why, for example, did global temperatures drop for a time after World War II before resuming their upward ascent in the late 1970s?

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Dealmaster: Get Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop for just $849

Ars Technica - May 21, 2019 - 5:31pm

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with another round of deals today. Topping our list is a pre-Memorial Day doorbuster from Lenovo for a very popular ThinkPad machine. Now you can get the 5th-gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon, featuring an Intel Core i5-6200U processor, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB SSD for just $849.

The X1 Carbon is a favorite of many, including a few Ars staffers, for its no-nonsense, yet sleek design as well as its power and practicality. Its carbon fiber chassis keeps it lightweight, and at about 16mm thick, it's quite thin as well. Its keyboard stands out as one of the most comfortable we've ever used on a laptop, and TrackPoint ball users will appreciate that Lenovo retained that beloved trackpad alternative. Every model also comes standard with a fingerprint sensor on the palm rest area as well as a versatile array of ports that includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports, two USB-A ports, and a full-sized HDMI port.

The 5th-gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon isn't the newest model—it debuted in 2017 and was updated in 2018 with newer processors and small changes, including a new physical camera shutter over the webcam and an optional IR camera. Lenovo is also gearing up to debut the 7th-gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon later this year, which will include Whiskey Lake chips, an optional 4K display panel, and the high starting price of $1,709.

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