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Industry & Technology

Electric eel lights up Christmas tree and other news

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 40 min ago
BBC Click's Marc Cieslak look at some of the best technology stories of the week.

Rory Cellan-Jones: Reporting the news with Parkinson's

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 42 min ago
The BBC's technology correspondent shares how he manages Parkinson's in the workplace.

Bug busters: The tech behind new vaccines

BBC Technology News - 5 hours 49 min ago
A revolution in the way vaccines are developed is raising hopes of faster protection from deadly infections.

The iPhone 11’s U1 chip necessitates constant geolocation checks, Apple says

Ars Technica - 6 hours 52 min ago

Enlarge / From left to right: iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Earlier this week, security reporter Brian Krebs published a story explaining that Apple's latest iPhones (iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro) periodically check the user's location even if the user disables location services individually for each and every app and service in the iPhone's Settings app.

While this behavior ended when the user disabled location services system-wide, it was a bit of a head-scratcher. What was the iPhone doing and why? Was it sending this information to Apple? Why couldn't users find information on what was happening? Krebs had notified Apple of the issue as a potential security problem back in mid November, but the company responded this week stating:

We do not see any actual security implications... It is expected behavior that the Location Services icon appears in the status bar when Location Services is enabled. The icon appears for system services that do not have a switch in Settings.

While Apple deemed this not to be a security issue, Krebs rightly pointed out that it remained a potential privacy issue, given Apple's promises that users have control over how and when iPhones track or report their locations.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Here’s how much global carbon emission increased this year

Ars Technica - December 5, 2019 - 11:24pm

Enlarge / Bar graph of climate data. (credit: Global Carbon Project)

Large oceangoing ships turn very slowly, which can be frustrating to someone accustomed to speeding around on nimble watercraft. Those eagerly watching for progress on climate change can relate. Every year, another batch of stats on greenhouse gas emissions comes in, and we're left to wonder whether we're turning things around yet.

This year's update was just published as part of the Global Carbon Project—a large scientific collaboration that coordinates this difficult accounting work. The researchers compile the latest estimates for every component of Earth's carbon cycle, from fossil fuel emissions and deforestation to the uptake of carbon by the ocean and vegetation.

The topline numbers are the total global emissions estimates. As this is published before the end of the year, the report includes a preliminary estimate for 2019 and a revision to the 2018 numbers published last year. Estimated 2018 emissions come in at a 2.1 percent increase over 2017—well within the error bars of last year's preliminary estimate of 2.7 percent.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Motorola One Hyper brings a pop-up camera, all-screen design for $400

Ars Technica - December 5, 2019 - 11:03pm

Motorola has what might be the best-looking mid-range smartphone with the "Motorola One Hyper," a $400 phone with flagship touches like an all-screen front design and a motorized, pop-up camera. It's like a mini OnePlus 7 Pro! You won't find any notches or other screen blemishes here.

For specs, you have a 6.5-inch 2340×1080 IPS LCD, a 2GHz Snapdragon 675, 4GB of memory, 128GB of storage, and a 4000mAh battery. The are two rear cameras: a 64MP main sensor and a 8MP wide angle lens, and a 32MP front camera. Both the main front and back cameras have a pretty high megapixel count, and both have an optional "quad pixel" mode, which merges every four pixels together for better light pickup.

There's a rear fingerprint reader, a 3.5mm headphone jack (!), a microSD slot for expandable storage up to 1TB, and NFC. There is clearly some cost cutting here, but that's to be expected at $400. You'll get a USB-C port capable of 45W quick charging, but you'll only get a 15W charger in the box. The body is made of plastic, and while it has a "water-repellant design" there's no official IPxx rating. Motorola is not great at OS updates, but at least out of the box, the phone has Android 10.

Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Kingpin of Evil Corp lived large. Now there’s a $5 million bounty on his head

Ars Technica - December 5, 2019 - 10:50pm

Enlarge / Screenshot of Justice Department website shows four pictures of same alleged criminal. (credit: US Justice Department)

Federal prosecutors have indicted the kingpin of Evil Corp, the name used by a cybercrime gang that used the notorious Dridex malware to drain more than $70 million from bank accounts in the US, UK, and other countries.

Maksim V. Yakubets, a 32-year-old Russian national who used the handle "Aqua," led one of the world's most advanced transnational cybercrime syndicates in the world, prosecutors said on Thursday. The crime group's alleged deployment of Dridex was one of the most widespread malware campaigns ever. The UK's National Crime Agency said the syndicate used the name Evil Corp.

Dridex was configured to target the customers of almost 300 different organizations in more than 40 countries by automating the theft of online banking credentials and other confidential information from infected computers. Over time, Dridex creators updated the malware to install ransomware. Previously known as Bugat and Cridex, Dridex used zeroday exploits and malicious attachments in emails to infect targets. The malware was designed to bypass antivirus and other security defenses.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Evil Corp: US charges Russians over hacking attacks

BBC Technology News - December 5, 2019 - 10:18pm
They allegedly stole billions worldwide and conducted work for a Russian intelligence agency.

DOL’s $400M pay-discrimination suit is unconstitutional, Oracle argues

Ars Technica - December 5, 2019 - 10:03pm

Enlarge / Regional headquarters of software company Oracle in San Jose, California, April 13, 2019. (credit: Smith Collection | Gado | Getty Images)

As a long-running Department of Labor suit against Oracle heads in front of a judge this week, Oracle is fighting back by arguing that the DOL's suit, alleging violation of labor laws, is unconstitutional.

The DOL filed suit against Oracle in 2017, alleging that the company had a broad, systemic pay discrepancy that underpaid women and people of color employed by the firm by a total $401 million in a four-year period. Analyses conducted by the department, as well as by independent third parties, found women were being paid between $13,000 and $20,000 less per year, on average, than their male peers.

The hearings in the case began today. The DOL is expected to call more than 20 current and former employees as witnesses in the case over the next week or two of proceedings.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Google Fiber ends $50, 100Mbps plan, but 1Gbps is still $70 with no data cap

Ars Technica - December 5, 2019 - 9:50pm

Enlarge / A Google Fiber van. (credit: Google Fiber)

Google Fiber has stopped offering its $50-per-month, 100Mbps Internet plan to new customers, leaving its gigabit service as the only option available to people who weren't grandfathered into the cheaper plan.

On the plus side, Google Fiber has still never raised the $70-per-month price of its gigabit plan since beginning operations in November 2012, a rarity in an industry in which incumbent ISPs routinely raise prices and tack on hidden fees because they face little competition.

"We're going all in on a gig," Google Fiber said in its announcement yesterday. "We will no longer offer a 100Mbps plan to new customers."

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Amazon’s inexpensive Eero mesh Wi-Fi kit is shockingly good

Ars Technica - December 5, 2019 - 9:36pm
Eero specs at a glance Kit type three-piece mesh Wi-Fi 6 support no Radios one 2x2 2.4GHz (each unit)
one 2x2 5GHz (each unit) Wired Ethernet 2 Gigabit jacks per unit Family Filtering Yes, with $30/yr subscription Internet Pause Yes, both manual and scheduled

We finally got our hands on Amazon's redesigned second-gen Eero kit, and we won't bury the lede—it's a fantastic performer, especially for the price. Although its performance isn't on par with the Plume Superpods, it was easy to set up and didn't outright fail any of our torture tests. Eero maintained decent browsing latency all around the house, even while simultaneously delivering four emulated 4K video streams.

Don't get us wrong, there's still a lot of daylight between Eero and Plume—but with the Eero kit retailing for $250 normally, and currently on special for $189 with a free Echo Dot and without need for a subscription (for most features), it's a heck of a deal.

On the other hand, if you want Eero because of its Alexa integration... maybe you ought to wait a bit.

Read 30 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Chinese residents worry about rise of facial recognition

BBC Technology News - December 5, 2019 - 8:50pm
A study by a Beijing-based body indicates many are worried about their biometric data being hacked.

DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman switches to Google

BBC Technology News - December 5, 2019 - 7:44pm
The man behind controversial Streams app is to join Google to develop AI solutions.

The full trailer for Disney’s live-action Mulan is here, and it’s breathtaking

Ars Technica - December 5, 2019 - 7:15pm

Chinese-American actress Liu Yifei stars in Disney's live-action Mulan.

Disney has released the full trailer for Mulan, the studio's live-action remake of its own 1998 animated film. When the first teaser dropped in July, I noted that, while I'm not a huge fan of Disney's live-action remakes, "this is an effective, sumptuously eye-catching teaser for Mulan." This latest trailer cements that assessment. It looks gorgeous, very much in the style of a period war drama, and its rumored $300 million production budget shows in every breathtaking shot.

Both films are based on the Chinese legend "The Ballad of Hua Mulan," which tells the story of a young woman in the Northern Wei era (spanning 386-536 CE) who takes her father's place when each family is required to provide one male to serve in the emperor's army. In this version, Hua Mulan is already a well-trained fighter, and she serves for 12 years, with none of her fellow soldiers ever suspecting her true gender.

Disney's animated film broadly followed the traditional storyline, except Mulan is not well-trained when she first runs away. The film also added a love interest, a goofy dragon representative of the family ancestors named Mushu (hilariously voiced by Eddie Murphy), and a catchy original soundtrack. Mulan was released to critical acclaim, grossing $304 million worldwide and earning Golden Globe and Oscar nominations. In other words, while it didn't exactly set the box office on fire, it was popular enough to merit a spot on the roster of Disney's ongoing live-action remakes.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Daddy Yankee, Stormzy and Billie Eilish are YouTube's most-watched of 2019

BBC Technology News - December 5, 2019 - 6:51pm
Stormzy's Vossi Bop topped the charts in the UK, but Latin Pop ruled around the world.

Radiolab co-host to depart podcast after 15 years

Ars Technica - December 5, 2019 - 6:45pm

Robert Krulwich, left, is departing Radiolab after co-hosting the radio series for 15 years with Jad Abumrad, right. (credit: Jad Abumrad / WNYC)

Radiolab, the WNYC radio show that became the pop-science cornerstone of most podcast directories throughout the 2010s, announced a major shakeup on Thursday to fans via its official newsletter. Longtime co-host Robert Krulwich will soon leave the show, with his announcement hinting to only a pair of episodes left before he moves on to other independent projects.

In his not-quite-goodbye to fans, Krulwich appears to declare that the series' producers and staff have succeeded in the mission he'd begun with the series years ago: to create a pipeline (a self-perpetuating one, arguably) for compelling science-based radio accessible to new audiences. After the show caught on with radio listeners nationwide, "the next question we asked ourselves is what’s Radiolab to become, other than the two of us delighting each other?" Krulwich writes. "The answer came literally through the door as one wonderfully talented person after another came and joined us until we now have pretty much the strongest bench in the business, a gang of people who, in their very different ways, have learned to tell stories that grab audiences, sort of like we did but more and more in their own voices with their own musics and their own styles."

Krulwich then describes a moment from roughly a year ago where it dawned upon him that his time at Radiolab was drawing to a close:

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Huawei sues FCC to stop ban on Huawei gear in US-funded networks

Ars Technica - December 5, 2019 - 5:44pm

Enlarge / Huawei's logo at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona in November 2019. (credit: Getty Images | SOPA Images)

Huawei has sued the Federal Communications Commission over the agency's order that bans Huawei equipment in certain government-funded telecom projects.

"Huawei asks the court to hold the FCC's order unlawful on the grounds that it fails to offer Huawei required due process protections in labelling Huawei as a national security threat," the Chinese company said in a press release announcing the lawsuit. "Huawei believes that the FCC also fails to substantiate its arbitrary findings with evidence or sound reasoning or analysis, in violation of the US Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act, and other laws."

Huawei said it filed the complaint in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. We haven't been able to get a copy of the lawsuit yet.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The modders who spent 15 years fixing Knights of the Old Republic 2

Ars Technica - December 5, 2019 - 5:29pm

Released on December 6, 2004, Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords (KOTOR2) was the first game from the then newly formed Obsidian Entertainment. At that time, the new studio was a shoestring operation with just seven veteran developers who had made the move from the recently shuttered Black Isle Studios, all holed up in CEO Feargus Urquhart’s attic. But publisher LucasArts, wanting to capitalize on the success of the original KOTOR from the year before, reportedly gave that threadbare new team just 14 to 16 months to create a sequel.

It’s no surprise that the finished product had some issues.

The most noticeable of these issues at launch might have been the conclusion to the HK-50 factory side quest. Specifically, that conclusion is just nowhere to be found in the final game.

Read 31 remaining paragraphs | Comments

White dwarf star covering itself with the atmosphere of a hot Neptune

Ars Technica - December 5, 2019 - 4:34pm

Enlarge (credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger)

White dwarfs are the cores of stars that were once similar to the Sun. At some point, these stars have exhausted the lighter elements that fueled their earlier existence, flared up into a bloated red giant, and burned down into carbon and oxygen rich cores not much larger than the Earth (but far more massive). With fusion shut down, they gradually radiate away the remaining temperature, fading out of our ability to detect them.

We now know that a large number of stars have planets around them. So what happens to a planet orbiting a star that puffs up on its way to becoming a white dwarf? Some hints of that have come from a number of these stars that have material similar to that of a rocky planet embedded in their surface. But a new example has been found with gas that has been drawn off from a Neptune-like planet.

One weird dwarf

The white dwarf in question, WD J091405.30+191412.25 (the authors refer to it affectionately as WD J0914+1914), was initially identified as having hydrogen on its surface. This, on its own, is not unusual. While it would have burned much of its hydrogen during its past life, many white dwarfs pull material off nearby stars. But in this case there was no sign of a nearby star. And, even more oddly, there was sulfur on the surface of the white dwarf as well. Sulfur is generally a very rare element on stars, which suggested that the material did not have a stellar origin.

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HackerOne pays $20,000 bug bounty after 'sloppy' breach

BBC Technology News - December 5, 2019 - 3:54pm
A firm that helps Goldman Sachs and Uber find flaws in their code has its own defences hacked.

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