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Industry & Technology

Staffsource: Ars’ most coveted work-from-home essentials

Ars Technica - 1 hour 30 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Jon Brodkin)

We at Ars have a unique work situation: instead of congregating in a stuffy office among the maze of stuffy offices in a high-rise in a big city, each of us works from the comfort of our home. Some of us have been doing so for decades, while others have only a few work-from-home years under our belts. It's an adjustment to go from an office environment to your living room, bedroom, or home office, but each of us has found unique ways to make it work and ensure our motivation and productivity levels stay high (most of the time).

That couldn't happen without key things we've grown attached to in our homes. For most of us, making adjustments to our at-home working spaces has been crucial to maintaining our mental and physical wellbeing. While some of us have found we cannot live without certain objects we already used regularly, others among us have invested in things that make our work-from-home lives better. Check out some of our work-from-home essentials below.

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

Read 57 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Facebook bans UK far right groups and leaders

BBC Technology News - 1 hour 45 min ago
A dozen named groups and individuals will be purged from the social network, it said.

You can now download the source code for all Infocom text adventure classics

Ars Technica - 2 hours 16 min ago

Enlarge / The Apple II, one of the myriad personal computers used to play Infocom games years ago. (credit: SSPL/Getty Images)

The source code of every Infocom text adventure game has been uploaded to code-sharing repository GitHub, allowing savvy programmers to examine and build upon some of the most beloved works of digital storytelling to date.

There are numerous repositories under the name historicalsource, each for a different game. Titles include, but are not limited to, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyPlanetfall, Shogun, and several Zork games—plus some more unusual inclusions like an incomplete version of Hitchhiker's sequel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Infocom samplers, and an unreleased adaptation of James Cameron's The Abyss.

The code was uploaded by Jason Scott, an archivist who is the proprietor of textfiles.com. His website describes itself as "a glimpse into the history of writers and artists bound by the 128 characters that the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) allowed them"—in particular those of the 1980s. He announced the GitHub uploads on Twitter earlier this week.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Facebook copied email contacts of 1.5 million users

BBC Technology News - 4 hours 33 min ago
The social network was grabbing email contacts of some new users for almost three years, it says.

Samsung's folding phone breaks for reviewers

BBC Technology News - 8 hours 7 min ago
Several outlets reviewing Samsung's ground-breaking new folding smartphone have reported major problems with its screen.

TED 2019: The online campaign that ended a beard ban

BBC Technology News - 13 hours 47 min ago
The woman aiming to build "a labour movement for the 21st Century" shares her plan at TED.

50-inch Surface Hub 2S: $8,999, shipping in June; 85-inch version next year

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 10:07pm

Enlarge (credit: Microsoft)

First announced last year, Microsoft's second-generation Surface Hub now has a price and release schedule—and a couple of new siblings, too.

Surface Hub is Microsoft's hardware dedicated to collaboration within meetings. It combines several roles, most notably digital whiteboarding and video conferencing, with Teams, Skype, and OneNote built into a single combined, integrated package. The 50-inch 2S is only vaguely specified: it has a custom-built 3:2 aspect ratio 4K (3840×2560 with 10 bits per pixel) screen with embedded touch sensors that work with both pen and finger. Inside is an 8th-generation Core i5 (Microsoft offered no more specifics than that) with 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD storage; while that may seem miserly, the Surface Hub 2 software is designed so that it doesn't store data locally, so 128GB should be abundant. To support video conferencing, it has an array of eight microphones, front-firing speakers, and a detachable 4K webcam. It will be available in the US from June, with other markets following, for a price of $8,999. One pen and one camera come in the box.

As we've come to expect from Microsoft, the screen looks great. It has a matte finish (reflections are too hard to avoid otherwise), so it doesn't quite have the punch a gloss finish would get it, but it's far better than many of the 1080p screens I've seen in offices around the world. Using techniques refined from building its portable Surface devices, the Hub 2's display integrates the touch-sensing layers into the glass of the screen, a design that makes the screen itself much thinner and reduces the parallax error when using a pen (it was 3mm in the first generation, down to 1.7mm in this).

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Bendgate 2.0: Samsung’s $2,000 foldable phone is already breaking

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 8:33pm

Samsung's futuristic Galaxy Fold is launching this month, and the device has already made its way to a select group of reviewers and influencers. During the run-up to the device's launch, there were concerns about the durability of the folding display, and now after just a few days with the public, the device is already experiencing problems. There are numerous reports of Samsung's $2,000 device breaking after a single day, sometimes due to poor durability, other times due to user error.

First up, we have a report from Dieter Bohn at The Verge, who had a piece of debris get under the Galaxy Fold display (possibly through the hinge?) and press up against the back of the display. In addition to causing an unsightly bump in the OLED panel, it eventually pressed against the display enough to break it, killing a few horizontal and vertical rows of pixels.

Since the Galaxy Fold folds in half, the flexible OLED display quickly forms a visible crease in the middle. People were worried about the durability of folding a display in half like this, and it looks like Steve Kovach of CNBC has experienced everyone's worst fear: his Galaxy Fold display broke right along the fold crease—all the pixels in the folding area went black and the screen started flickering like crazy.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Porn sites must age-verify British users starting July 15

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 6:56pm

Enlarge / British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in Brussels on April 11, 2019.

The United Kingdom's ban on underage access to porn will take effect on July 15, the government announced on Wednesday.

"Adult content is currently far too easy for children to access online," Digital Minister Margot James said. "We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to be online, and these new laws will help us achieve this."

The government is implementing the terms of the Digital Economy Bill that passed the UK parliament in 2017. Under the law, commercial porn sites will be required to verify that a British user is over the age of 18 before allowing him or her to access pornographic material. British censors will also have the power to ban "extreme" online pornography, which includes some types of violent sexual content as well as content that involves sex acts with corpses or animals.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

HD emulation mod makes “Mode 7” SNES games look like new

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 6:08pm

Gamers of a certain age probably remember being wowed by the quick, smooth scaling and rotation effects of the Super Nintendo's much-ballyhooed "Mode 7" graphics. Looking back, though, those gamers might also notice how chunky and pixelated those background transformations could end up looking, especially when viewed on today's high-end screens.

Emulation to the rescue. A modder going by the handle DerKoun has released an "HD Mode 7" patch for the accuracy-focused SNES emulator bsnes. In their own words, the patch "performs Mode 7 transformations... at up to 4 times the horizontal and vertical resolution" of the original hardware.

The results, as you can see in the above gallery and the below YouTube video, are practically miraculous. Pieces of Mode 7 maps that used to be boxy smears of color far in the distance are now sharp, straight lines with distinct borders and distinguishable features. It's like looking at a brand-new game.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Notre-Dame fire: Assassin's Creed's maker pledges aid

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 6:06pm
Ubisoft is to donate money and offer use of its digital reconstruction of the cathedral.

'Why I write fake online reviews'

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 4:09pm
Two people explain why they post made-up reviews, while psychologists deconstruct the power of the review.

Rumored lidar shopping suggests Apple is still serious about autonomy

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 4:06pm

Enlarge (credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Apple has talked to at least four different companies about purchasing lidar sensors, Reuters reports. Apple is also reportedly working on a home-built lidar sensor. The news suggests that Apple is still taking its self-driving car effort, known internally as Project Titan, seriously.

Apple hasn't publicly revealed what kind of self-driving technology it is working on, and indeed reporting suggests that the company's plans have shifted over time. Way back in 2015, the Wall Sreet Journal reported that Apple was developing an electric car and had hundreds of people working on the project. The next year, the New York Times reported that Apple was scaling back the project and was looking to partner with an existing automaker rather than building a car from scratch. By 2017, the Times was reporting that Apple had "put off any notion of an Apple-branded autonomous vehicle and is instead working on the underlying technology that allows a car to drive itself."

Last year, Apple rehired Doug Field, a former Apple executive who had left to oversee Tesla's vehicle engineering—once again sparking speculation that Apple might get into manufacturing. In January, Apple laid off about 200 Project Titan engineers and reassigned others in a shakeup led by Field.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

TED 2019: Prize to online classes project causes controversy

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 4:01pm
Plans to give millions of dollars to a program for online learning for pre-schoolers has been criticised.

The wave of domain hijackings besetting the Internet is worse than we thought

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 4:00pm

Enlarge / Artist's impression of state-sponsored "Sea Turtle" hacking campaign. (credit: Chunumunu / Getty Images)

The wave of domain hijacking attacks besetting the Internet over the past few months is worse than previously thought, according to a new report that says state-sponsored actors have continued to brazenly target key infrastructure despite growing awareness of the operation.

The report was published Wednesday by Cisco’s Talos security group. It indicates that three weeks ago, the highjacking campaign targeted the domain of Sweden-based consulting firm Cafax. Cafax’s only listed consultant is Lars-Johan Liman, who is a senior systems specialist at Netnod, a Swedish DNS provider. Netnod is also the operator of i.root, one of the Internet’s foundational 13 DNS root servers. Liman is listed as being responsible for the i-root. As KrebsOnSecurity reported previously, Netnod domains were hijacked in December and January in a campaign aimed at capturing credentials. The Cisco report assessed with high confidence that Cafax was targeted in an attempt to re-establish access to Netnod infrastructure.

Reverse DNS records show that in late March nsd.cafax.com resolved to a malicious IP address controlled by the attackers. NSD is often used to abbreviate name server demon, an open-source app for managing DNS servers. It looks unlikely that the attackers succeeded in actually compromising Cafax, although it wasn't possible to rule out the possibility.

Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Nikola Motor Company shows off two real trucks and… a new jet ski?

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 3:54pm

Ars makes every effort to cover its own travel costs. We covered the flight out to Scottsdale, Arizona, but Nikola covered one night in a nearby hotel.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Nikola Motor Company announced a slew of all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles on a cool Tuesday night in a warehouse surrounded by desert. The company seems to be positioning itself as the "trucker's Tesla," serving up Budweiser (supplied by partner-customer Anheuser-Busch) and country music to the same industry watchers and investors that Tesla usually courts.

Of the five products that Nikola CEO Trevor Milton talked about on Tuesday night, very little came as a true surprise to watchers of the company. There were two trucks: the Nikola Two and the Nikola Tre (for European markets), as well as a Utility Task Vehicle (UTV) for off-roading, a military-grade UTV, and a previously unannounced jet ski.

Read 28 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The Jaguar I-Pace wins World Car of the Year, World Green Car awards

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 3:15pm

NEW YORK—On Wednesday morning, the Jaguar I-Pace won this year's World Car of the Year award at the 2019 New York International Auto Show. It beat two other finalists, the Audi e-tron and Volvo's S60 and V60 twins to top honors, as voted by a panel of 86 journalists from around the world. Disclosure: for the second year in a row, I was one of those judges. We were asked to score each eligible car on a range of attributes, including safety, the environment, performance, design, and value, but only for vehicles we actually drove. You can see the list of eligible vehicles for this year's awards here. (Sorry, Tesla fans: the Model 3 is really rather good but went on sale too long ago to be considered for this year's awards.)

I'm not surprised that the I-Pace won; as a battery electric vehicle it scored highly on its green credentials, it's a joy to drive, and it looks stunning inside and out. Much of that can be said about the Volvos and the Audi, but if I had a place to charge it and I could afford one, the I-Pace would be my pick to replace our now-totaled Saabaru. (I don't, can't, and my wife gets to pick the next car anyway.)

The Audi and Jaguar were also contenders for the World Green Car award, joined by the Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel cell car. It also really impressed me with a great interior and a calming driving style despite my continued skepticism for hydrogen as a fuel. I've repeatedly complained that it's taking the industry too long to get real about alternative powertrains, but the fact that two-thirds of the "green" cars were also finalists for the big trophy should be grounds for some optimism. In fact, as the Volvos are available as plug-in hybrid EVs, all three of the WCOTY finalists can be driven to the shops and back without burning a drop of gasoline.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Xbox One with no discs: 'The way forward' or 'bad timing'?

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 3:06pm
Gamers give their verdict as Microsoft announces an "all-digital edition" of the console.

Nintendo Labo VR review: There’s no “Nintendo magic” inside these lenses

Ars Technica - April 17, 2019 - 2:58pm

Enlarge / Your intrepid author, staring intensely into the Nintendo Labo VR universe. (credit: Sam Machkovech)

Above all the other failings of Nintendo Labo VR, the biggest might be its lack of "Nintendo magic."

Virtual reality has already emerged as a millions-selling gaming genre, complete with beautiful, compelling, and unique experiences that scale from giant HTC Vive rooms to cramped PlayStation VR stations. When Nintendo barges into a new control paradigm, it usually tops the recent competition with either a hardware innovation, a game-design revelation, or a brilliant combination of the two.

But Nintendo Labo VR, the company's first serious VR product, is hamstrung by a nagging feeling that its solution to "VR-on-Switch" is the very thing getting in the way of the fun. Its players are constantly urged to get out of VR, whether by lengthy cardboard build times, pint-sized VR experiences, or the sheer strain of having a 720p Switch screen filtered through a pair of glass lenses.

Read 33 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Government in email privacy blunder

BBC Technology News - April 17, 2019 - 2:54pm
A department responsible for data protection shares the personal details of hundreds of journalists.

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