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Industry & Technology

Ubuntu 19.10: It’s fast, like “make old hardware feel new” fast

Ars Technica - November 27, 2019 - 5:00pm

Leaves are turning. Temperatures have dipped. These are sure signs—if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, at least—that Canonical's Autumn release is upon us. Things are a bit different in 2019, however. Not only is Ubuntu 19.10 nicknamed Eoan Ermine (no, I don't know how you pronounce it either), but it's the best non-LTS Ubuntu release Canonical has ever put out.

I should qualify that statement somewhat, because really, as the newest version, it had damn well better be the best Ubuntu ever. But there's more than recency bias behind the sentiment. I've been reviewing Ubuntu for 10 years now, and I was using and interacting with this distro in some form or another for another three or four years before that. After spending recent weeks with Ubuntu 19.10, I can say confidently it is quite simply the best Ubuntu Canonical has ever released.

The first reason I like 19.10 so much is that it feels insanely fast. Everyday tasks like opening applications, dragging windows, activating the search interface, and even just moving the cursor around are all noticeably faster than in 19.04. The speed boost is immediately noticeable from the minute you pop in the live CD, and it's even faster once you have 19.10 installed.

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Go master quits because AI 'cannot be defeated'

BBC Technology News - November 27, 2019 - 4:39pm
Lee Se-dol retires from the game of Go after conceding that computers "cannot be defeated".

Couple falls victim to Airbnb scam in Belfast

BBC Technology News - November 27, 2019 - 2:49pm
Simone and Alice Cardillo arrived at their accommodation to find it was empty and for sale.

Why can’t Internet companies stop awful content?

Ars Technica - November 27, 2019 - 2:45pm

Enlarge / Don't abandon the Internet yet! (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Eric Goldman is a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and co-director of the High-Tech Law Institute. Jess Miers is an Internet Law & Policy Foundry fellow and a second year Tech Edge J.D. student at Santa Clara University School of Law. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Ars Technica.

For the first two decades of the commercial Internet, we celebrated the Internet as one of society's greatest inventions. After all, the Internet has led to truly remarkable outcomes: it has helped overthrow repressive political regimes, made economic markets more efficient, created safe spaces for otherwise marginalized communities to find their voices, and led to the most exquisite cat videos ever seen.

But in the last few years, public perceptions of the Internet have plummeted. We've lost trust in the Internet giants, who seem to have too much power and make missteps daily. We also are constantly reminded of all of the awful and antisocial ways that people interact with each other over the Internet. We are addicted to the Internet—but we don't really love it any more.

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Subscribe to Ars and get a YubiKey 5

Ars Technica - November 27, 2019 - 2:00pm

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

If you're in the United States, chances are that you're looking forward to a long weekend with family, friends, food, and football in some order. As we pause for Thanksgiving, we at Ars are thankful for the smartest and most insightful audience on the Internet. (Seriously, we've seen the comments at other sites...) To show our appreciation, we're teaming up with YubiKey once again.

Since launching Ars Pro last year, we've seen one request above all from readers and subscribers: a YubiKey two-factor authentication device that supports USB-C. We've heard your feedback loud and clear, and today we're proud to announce that new Ars Pro++ subscribers can choose from either the YubiKey 5c or the YubiKey 5 NFC.

As you might have guessed from the name, the YubiKey 5c plugs into the USB-C ports that are ubiquitous on newer hardware. The $45 YubiKey 5 NFC works with NFC-enabled iOS, Android, and Windows 10 devices, allowing you to authenticate just by tapping the YubiKey against your device. And if your laptop or PC is rocking old-school USB-A ports, the YubiKey 5 NFC will slide right in.

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Tips to get the best deals

BBC Technology News - November 27, 2019 - 11:22am
How to be a savvy shopper - and not come a cropper - in the Black Friday sales.

Russian cows get VR headsets 'to reduce anxiety'

BBC Technology News - November 27, 2019 - 10:41am
The herd was shown "a unique summer field simulation program" in a bid to boost milk yields.

Breast cancer: Patient creates app to help with treatment

BBC Technology News - November 27, 2019 - 3:30am
Karen Bonham struggled to find the information she needed ahead of radiotherapy - so she created an app.

General Election 2019: The Facebook influencers you've never heard of

BBC Technology News - November 27, 2019 - 2:47am
Far from newspaper offices and TV studios, committed volunteer activists have created an alternative Facebook media universe.

How a cake company pioneered the office computer

BBC Technology News - November 27, 2019 - 1:15am
How the Lyons catering company pioneered LEO, the first electronic office system

The YouTuber with 26 billion views

BBC Technology News - November 27, 2019 - 1:03am
Brazil's Konrad Dantas, better know as Kondzilla, has the world's second most watched music video channel.

CEO Secrets: 'My success is all down to maths'

BBC Technology News - November 27, 2019 - 1:03am
Timothy Armoo of Fanbytes explains how his success is grounded in a love of maths.

No, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is not disintegrating, physicist claims

Ars Technica - November 26, 2019 - 11:46pm

Enlarge / A dramatic view of Jupiter's Great Red Spot and its surroundings, courtesy of Voyager 1 on Feb. 25, 1979, when the spacecraft was 5.7 million miles (9.2 million kilometers) from Jupiter. (credit: NASA/JPL/Public domain)

Earlier this year, several amateur astronomers spotted an unusual anomaly on the planet Jupiter: bits of the gas giant's famed Great Red Spot appeared to be flaking off, raising fears that the planet's most identifiable feature might be showing signs of disappearing. But Philip Marcus, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, begs to differ. He argues that reports of the red spot's death have been greatly exaggerated, and at a meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics in Seattle this week, he offered an intriguing counter-explanation for the flaking.

The Great Red Spot is basically a gigantic storm in Jupiter's atmosphere, about 22 degrees south of the planet's equator. Because it's located in the southern hemisphere, it rotates counter-clockwise, meaning it's more of an "anti-cyclone." The 17th-century scientist Robert Hooke is commonly credited with the first recorded observation of the red spot in 1664, although some contend Giovanni Cassini provided a more convincing description in 1665. After 1713, there were no reported observations for over 100 years, until the red spot was observed again in 1830 and continually thereafter. Despite the gap in recorded observations, many astronomers believe it's the same storm, still going strong more than 350 years later.

This isn't the first time an alarm has been raised about the possible dissolution of the red spot. Back in 2004, astronomers concluded that it was shrinking, compared to 100 years ago, and the spot seems to have been shrinking even more rapidly since 2012. In May 2017, the Gemini North telescope on the summit of Hawaii's Maunakea captured an image of a small hook-like cloud on the red spot's western side, as well as a long wave, or "streamer," extending off its eastern side.

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Senate takes another stab at privacy law with proposed COPRA bill

Ars Technica - November 26, 2019 - 10:55pm

Enlarge / Sen. Maria Cantwell during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Aug. 22, 2018. (credit: Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Perhaps the third time's the charm: a group of Senate Democrats, following in the recent footsteps of their colleagues in both chambers, has introduced a bill that would impose sweeping reforms to the current disaster patchwork of US privacy law.

The bill (PDF), dubbed the Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA), seeks to provide US consumers with a blanket set of privacy rights. The scope and goal of COPRA are in the same vein as Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect in May 2018.

Privacy rights "should be like your Miranda rights—clear as a bell as to what they are and what constitutes a violation," Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who introduced the bill, said in a statement. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) also co-sponsored the bill.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Despite clear warnings, Europe is out of IP addresses—again

Ars Technica - November 26, 2019 - 10:29pm

Enlarge / This is RIPE's new IPv4 waiting list. If you've never received IP addresses from RIPE before, you can request a single /24 (256 IPs) and wait for somebody to croak and relinquish theirs. (credit: Jim Salter)

Monday afternoon, RIPE—Réseaux IP Européens—or the regional Internet Registry for Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Central Asia—announced that it's out of IPv4 addresses.

What this means is that the organization has handed out its last available /22 (1,022 address) netblock. If you need European public IP addresses of your very own, you must get on a waiting list and hope for some other company to die on the vine and relinquish its address space when it does.

There are some caveats to RIPE's used-IPv4-address car lot, though. To get on the waiting list, you must never have received any subnet from RIPE in the past... and you may only receive a single /24 subnet. That gets you 256 total IPv4 addresses, three of which are used just to set the whole thing up (network, broadcast, and gateway). So if you plan to have more than 253 devices connected, you're going to need to get thrifty and figure out how many of them can be put behind NAT (Network Address Translation).

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Disney+’s The Mandalorian joins a long list of fake HDR content, analysis finds

Ars Technica - November 26, 2019 - 10:06pm

Enlarge / Pedro Pascal stars as the Mandalorian. (credit: YouTube/Disney Plus)

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is the most notable new display technology for rich-media consumption since high definition, but judging from some implementations of it, you wouldn't necessarily know it.

YouTube channel HDTVTest is known for doing quality analysis of the HDR implementations in popular media like films, games, and TV shows, and it found that Disney+'s The Mandalorian live-action Star Wars series is the latest in a long line of high-profile content that is just SDR wrapped up in an HDR package. The show has none of the actual benefits of HDR and a number of additional downsides, such that viewers might actually prefer to disable HDR on their TVs when viewing.

Most good TVs that support HDR are capable of displaying specular highlights at around 800-1,200 cd/m² in brightness, and that range of brightness from black (or close-enough to it on LCD displays) is what makes HDR possible. By presenting such a wide range of brightness, content has realistic and visually arresting contrast between the brightest and darkest parts of the image—and that range and granularity in brightness has a big impact on color, too.

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Dealmaster: Take $70 off Sony’s WH-1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones

Ars Technica - November 26, 2019 - 9:04pm

Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica)

Greetings, Arsians! The Dealmaster is back with another round of early Black Friday deals. Today's list is highlighted by a deal on Sony's WH-1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones, which are down below $280 at various retailers. This will be their sale price for the holiday season; normally, they retail for around $350.

We've recommended these headphones multiple times in the past year and change. While we wouldn't be surprised to see Sony release a new model in the coming months, the WH-1000XM3 remain a superb blend of well-cushioned comfort, clean sound, and the most effective active noise-canceling on the market. Their sound profile does skew a bit toward heavier bass, but they're not sloppy about it, and it's possible to customize the signature through a companion app. We'd like the ability to customize the strength of the ANC, and we'd prefer physical controls over the touch-based ones here, but if you've been searching for a premium pair of noise-canceling headphones, this is a good price for a set we recommend with confidence.

That said, a metric ton of Black Friday deals has gone live ahead of Black Friday proper, including a whole bunch of discounts on PS4 and Xbox One hardware, video games for those systems, Amazon Fire TV streamers and Fire tablets, the latest-gen Apple iPad, and much more. So even if you don't need a new pair of headphones, have a look through the full roundup below.

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Supreme Court allows climate scientist’s defamation case to proceed

Ars Technica - November 26, 2019 - 8:48pm

Enlarge / Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann giving a presentation on records of past climate. (credit: American Association of University Professors)

Climate scientists take a lot of abuse. The political opposition to climate science in some countries breeds nasty attacks on the scientists themselves. Penn State's Michael E. Mann, for example, became a favorite target after his work on tree-ring records of past climate produced a "hockey stick" graph showing that a gradual cooling trend flipped into sharp, human-caused warming.

In 2012, Mann decided he'd had enough and did something few other scientists have—he filed a defamation lawsuit. After years bouncing around in court, with the defendants appealing decisions that would let the case proceed, the suit's last obstacle was cleared Monday as the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal. A 2016 decision by a District of Columbia court will stand, and the case will now have to be heard.

The original suit was prompted by articles written by Conservative columnist and radio show host Mark Steyn and Rand Simberg of the Conservative Enterprise Institute. The articles claimed that Mann's research was fraudulent—that he had intentionally manipulated data. And Simberg added a regrettable analogy that Steyn quoted in his piece: "Mann could be said to be the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except for instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data."

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Iran letter raises prospect of 'white list' internet clampdown

BBC Technology News - November 26, 2019 - 8:40pm
Citizens fear Iran will soon limit access to a so-called "white list" of approved foreign services.

Google fires four employees at center of worker organization efforts

Ars Technica - November 26, 2019 - 7:47pm

Enlarge / Google logo seen during Google Developer Days (GDD) in Shanghai, China, September 2019. (credit: Lyu Liang | VCG | Getty Images)

Tensions between Google parent company Alphabet and its workers are again on the rise, as four employees at the forefront of an organization movement within Google have been fired.

The firings came Monday in the wake of an employee rally at Google's San Francisco office that took place last Friday. The rally was in support of employees Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland, both of whom had been placed on administrative leave in the wake of their previous protests against the company.

Bloomberg obtained a memo sent to all Google employees on Monday about the firings, which described the dismissal as due to "clear and repeated violations" of the company's data security policies.

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