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Industry & Technology

Coronavirus: Commons Speaker calls for 'virtual Parliament'

BBC Technology News - 1 hour 2 min ago
MPs should take part in PMQs and debates via video if they can't return to work, says Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

It’s a “tock” year: New Nvidia laptop GPUs in 25 OEMs’ systems this month

Ars Technica - 3 hours 31 sec ago

What kind of GPU year can we expect from Nvidia, one of the two largest consumer-grade GPU producers in the world? The answer is somewhat up in the air, because Nvidia is in a solid-yet-fluid position. Market worries and announcement-filled event cancellations hover on one end, while the company's surprisingly bullish financial guidance stands out on the other.

Either way, we've reached April without the company's usual announcement of some new desktop hardware by March's end, and we still don't know when wholly new desktop GPUs might come (more on that later). Instead, we start this month with a different wave of products: a new slate of laptop-grade GPUs, albeit not that new.

Nvidia has announced a wave of "Max-Q" GPUs coming to laptops from 25 OEMs by the end of April, and most, but not all, come from the company's RTX line of GPUs. This month's wave of GPUs consists of three new laptop SKUs (RTX 2080 Super, RTX 2070 Super, GTX 1650 Ti) and slight updates to four existing SKUs (RTX 2070, RTX 2060, GTX 1660 Ti, GTX 1650). Each of these GPUs is built upon the manufacturer's Turing 12nm architecture.

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Amazon Prime allows in-app purchases for Apple users

BBC Technology News - 9 hours 18 min ago
The changes will apply to users in the US, UK, and Germany.

How Bafta is hosting games awards in lockdown

BBC Technology News - 9 hours 28 min ago
The Bafta Games Awards will be the first major awards to take place during social distancing rules.

No joke: Rick and Morty has a new trailer; second half of S4 will air May 3

Ars Technica - 9 hours 33 min ago

The last five episodes of Rick and Morty S4 will air a bit earlier than fans expected.

Just a few days after dropping a special samurai-themed Rick and Morty episode, "Samurai and Shogun," Adult Swim has given us the trailer for the hotly anticipated second half of the popular animated series, along with a release date: May 3. That should delight hardcore fans, who had feared the release of the special episode meant a longer wait for the regular series' return.

(A few mild spoilers for prior seasons below.)

The first five episodes of S4 aired last November and December, and they featured Rick and Morty harvesting "death crystals" that predict various outcomes for one's demise; teaming up with Mr. Poopybutthole and "Elon Tusk" for a heist; freeing horny dragons from the Wizard who enslaved them; and battling time-traveling alien snakes, among other adventures. As always, pop-culture references abounded, riffing on the films Edge of Tomorrow, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Akira, Battlestar Galactica, and Terminator, for instance.

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Coronavirus: Should the UK use drones to disinfect public spaces?

BBC Technology News - 10 hours 10 min ago
A group is calling for a change in regulation so drones can spray disinfectant in public places

Coronavirus: How China's using surveillance to tackle outbreak

BBC Technology News - 10 hours 54 min ago
China is using its high tech system to tackle the outbreak, but is the state interference justified?

Study looks at how Russian troll farms are politicizing vaccines

Ars Technica - 11 hours 50 min ago

Enlarge / Have Russian trolls done a drive-by on vaccines? (credit: Bruna Prado / Getty Images)

At this point, it's old news that Russia is intervening in US society in part by using troll farms organized by its Internet Research Agency. While the farms' most high-profile activity was supporting Donald Trump during the 2016 election, the trolls were active both before and since, largely in attempts to enhance existing divisions in US society.

One divisive area they've latched on to is vaccination, which has been the subject of numerous public controversies of late. But, while it was clear Russian trolls were talking about vaccines on social media, it wasn't clear what they hoped to accomplish. A new study suggests their goals are twofold and create the risk of politicizing an issue that has largely been free of partisan politics.

The results provide a preview of where we might be going with coronavirus misinformation and why things might get worse once a vaccine becomes available.

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Modern meteorology was born 60 years ago today

Ars Technica - April 1, 2020 - 10:48pm

Enlarge / Image taken on April 1, 1960, by TIROS 1. This was the first television picture of Earth from space. (credit: NASA)

Sixty years ago on this date, April 1, a Thor-Able rocket launched a small satellite weighing 122.5kg into an orbit about 650km above the Earth's surface. Effectively, this launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station marked the beginning of the era of modern weather forecasting.

Designed by the Radio Corporation of America and put into space by NASA, the Television InfraRed Observation Satellite, or TIROS-1, was the nation's first weather satellite. During its 78 days of operation, TIROS-1 successfully monitored Earth's cloud cover and weather patterns from space.

This was a potent moment for the field of meteorology. For the first time, scientists were able to combine space-based observations with physical models of the atmosphere that were just beginning to be run on supercomputers.

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Levandowski says Uber must pay his $179 million judgment to Google

Ars Technica - April 1, 2020 - 10:12pm

Enlarge / Anthony Levandowski, then-VP of engineering at Uber, in 2016. Levandowski co-founded self-driving truck startup Otto and then led Uber's self-driving technology efforts before being fired in 2017. (credit: ANGELO MERENDINO/AFP/Getty Images)

Alphabet's huge legal battle with Uber over self-driving technology ended two years ago. But the engineer at the center of that fight, Anthony Levandowski, is still facing legal and financial headaches. On Monday, he told a federal bankruptcy court in California that Uber was contractually obligated to cover a $179 million legal judgment that Levandowski owes to Google. Levandowski asked the court to order Uber to enter arbitration on the matter.

Levandowski claims that Uber was fully aware of the circumstances of Levandowski's 2016 departure from Google when Uber acquired Levandowski's self-driving startup, Otto, later the same year. Prior to the acquisition, Uber hired a firm to look into the background of Otto and its founders. Levandwoski says he cooperated fully, giving investigators access to his email accounts and personal files.

According to Levandowski, the investigators found—and told Uber—that Levandowski had files belonging to Google on his devices and had tried to recruit a number of Google employees for his new company while he still worked for Google. Levandowski claims that he repeatedly warned Uber management, including CEO Travis Kalanick, that Google was likely to sue if Uber bought Otto. But according to Levandowski, Kalanick wasn't concerned. "Uber eats injunctions for breakfast," he allegedly told Levandowski.

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Frontier prepares for bankruptcy, regrets failure to install enough fiber

Ars Technica - April 1, 2020 - 8:39pm

Enlarge / A Frontier Communications van. (credit: Getty Images | jetcityimage)

As Frontier Communications moves closer to an expected bankruptcy filing, the ISP told investors that its troubles stem largely from its failure to invest properly in upgrading DSL to fiber broadband.

The presentation for investors, which is included in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, said that "significant under-investment in fiber deployment and limited enterprise product offerings have created headwinds that the company is repositioning itself to reverse." Much of Frontier's fiber deployment was actually installed by Verizon before Verizon sold some of its operations to Frontier.

About 51 percent of Frontier revenue comes directly from residential consumers, with the rest mostly from wholesale and business customers. Frontier said the residential segment that provides most of its revenue "has the highest monthly churn," meaning that customers are leaving the company in large numbers. DSL-customer losses are expected to increase, Frontier said.

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This is the Volkswagen e-BULLI, an official electric bus restomod

Ars Technica - April 1, 2020 - 6:48pm

Everyone has different ways of coping with the coronavirus shut-in. People working from home are spicing up their teleconferences with animated backdrops. Senior Technology Editor Lee Hutchinson has grown a beard. And I've been getting even more lazy about reading all the news alert emails that OEMs send me each day, which is why I've only just found out about a new electric Volkswagen bus that's going on sale in Europe. No, it's not the crowd-pleasing ID Buzz—it's called the e-BULLI, and it's an official electric restomod of a classic 1966 VW T1 Samba Bus, the product of a collaboration between VW's commercial vehicles division and a company called eClassics.

(For the uninitiated, a restomod is a "vehicle that has been put back together with the addition of new modern or aftermarket parts that were not on the vehicle when it came from the factory.")

Out goes the 43hp (32kW), 75lb-ft (102Nm) air-cooled flat-four engine, along with the transmission, fuel tank, exhaust, and so on. Instead, the rear wheels are driven by an 81hp (61kW), 156lb-ft (210Nm) electric motor borrowed from the e-up!, an adorable little electric city car that went on sale in Europe in late 2019. As there's more space in a T1 bus than an e-up!, e-BULLI gets the benefit of a slightly bigger lithium-ion battery—in this case, one with 45kWh of useable energy, which is mounted amidships in the bus's floor.

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BBC’s 1957 April Fool’s “spaghetti-tree hoax” is more relevant than ever

Ars Technica - April 1, 2020 - 6:28pm

The BBC's Panorama program spoofed the UK on April 1, 1957, with a segment on the so-called "spaghetti tree hoax."

We here at Ars do not typically indulge in the online prankery that comes with April Fool's Day and are even less inclined to do so in the current climate. But it does provide an opportunity to revisit one of the most famous media hoaxes of the 20th century: the so-called "spaghetti-tree hoax," the result of a two-and-a-half-minute prank segment broadcast on the BBC's Panorama current-affairs program on April Fool's Day in 1957. It's a fun, albeit cautionary, tale of not believing everything you see on television (or read online).

The man largely responsible for the hoax was Austrian-born Panorama cameraman Charles de Jaeger, who liked to play practical jokes. As a kid, one of his school teachers used to tell the class, "Boys, you're so stupid, you'd believe me if I told you that spaghetti grows on trees." De Jaeger had always wanted to turn this into an April Fool's prank, and in 1957, he saw his chance. April Fool's Day fell on a Monday, the same night Panorama aired. He argued that he could do the shoot cheaply while working on another assignment in Switzerland, and Panorama editor Michael Peacock approved a tiny budget of £100 for the project.

The sequence was shot at a hotel in Castiglione on the shore of Lake Lugano. De Jaeger bought 20 pounds of uncooked homemade spaghetti and hung the strands from the branches of the laurel trees around the lake to make it seem like they were "spaghetti trees." (Cooked spaghetti just slipped off the branches. De Jaeger had to keep the uncooked fresh spaghetti between damp cloths before shooting to ensure it didn't dry out.)

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FCC requires anti-robocall tech after “voluntary” plan didn’t work out [Updated]

Ars Technica - April 1, 2020 - 5:52pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | MassimoVernicesole)

Update (April 1, 2020): The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously to finalize the anti-robocall order on March 31, 2020, complying with instructions the commission received from Congress. The order "requires all originating and terminating voice service providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN in the Internet Protocol (IP) portions of their networks by June 30, 2021, a deadline that is consistent with Congress’s direction in the recently-enacted TRACED Act," the FCC said. As we wrote earlier, the FCC plans a one-year deadline extension for small phone providers. The FCC also voted to seek public comment on how "to promote caller ID authentication on voice networks that do not rely on IP technology," meaning older landline networks.

Original story from March 6, 2020 follows: Phone companies would be required to deploy technology that prevents spoofing of Caller ID under a plan announced today by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai.

Pai framed it as his own decision, with his announcement saying the chairman "proposed a major step forward... to protect consumers against spoofed robocalls." But in reality the FCC was ordered by Congress and President Trump to implement this new rule. The requirement on the FCC was part of the TRACED Act that was signed into law in December 2019. Pai previously hoped that all carriers would deploy the technology voluntarily.

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Attackers can use Zoom to steal users’ Windows credentials with no warning

Ars Technica - April 1, 2020 - 5:38pm

Enlarge (credit: Christopher Blizzard)

Users of Zoom for Windows beware: the widely used software has a vulnerability that allows attackers to steal your operating system credentials, researchers said.

Discovery of the currently unpatched vulnerability comes as Zoom usage has soared in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. With massive numbers of people working from home, they rely on Zoom to connect with co-workers, customers, and partners. Many of these home users are connecting to sensitive work networks through temporary or improvised means that don’t have the benefit of enterprise-grade firewalls found on-premises.

Embed network location here

Attacks work by using the Zoom chat window to send targets a string of text that represents the network location on the Windows device they’re using. The Zoom app for Windows automatically converts these so-called universal naming convention strings—such as \\$—into clickable links. In the event that targets click on those links on networks that aren’t fully locked down, Zoom will send the Windows usernames and the corresponding NTLM hashes to the address contained in the link.

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Microsoft announces Microsoft 365, a service to replace personal Office 365

Ars Technica - April 1, 2020 - 5:24pm

Starting April 21, Microsoft’s Office 365 personal and family subscription suite will be renamed Microsoft 365 in a move that heralds an effort by the company to win over more consumer users.

Seeking to make a point with the rebranding, Microsoft calls it “a subscription service for your life,” which might conjure visions of Amazon Prime. Microsoft 365 will cost $6.99 per month, and a six-user, $9.99 family plan will also be offered. Its apps will be available on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

It will include Office applications like Word and Excel as Office 365 has, but it comes with a promise of new apps and services both today and in the future. In a blog post describing the new service, Microsoft wrote that Microsoft 365 will offer “new artificial intelligence (AI), rich content and templates, and cloud-powered experiences.”

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2020 Moto G goes up for pre-order today, $250 for a 5000mAh battery

Ars Technica - April 1, 2020 - 5:12pm

The Motorola Moto G is no longer the fantastic phone it used to be, but Lenovorola is still pumping out yearly editions of the low-end smartphone. As was announced back in February, this year there are two Moto G phones, the Moto G Power and the Moto G Stylus, and they're up for pre-order today, with a ship date of April 16.

The two phones look basically identical, with 6.4-inch 2300×1080 LCDs, mostly all-screen designs (with a slightly taller bezel at the bottom), front cameras that live in a circular display cutout, and a vertical strip of cameras on the back. Both phones have the Snapdragon 665 SoC with 4GB of RAM, which is an 11nm, with eight Cortex A73-derivative CPUs running at 2.2Ghz.

The differences between the two phones are in the storage, battery, cameras, the stylus accessory, and, of course, the price. The cheaper Moto G Power is $250, with 64GB of storage, a 5000mAh battery, and three cameras: a 16MP main sensor, a 2MP macro lens, and a 8MP ultra-wide. The G Stylus loses a lot of battery in exchange for that stylus storage, and it's also 0.5mm thinner than the Power, so the $300 device has only a 4000mAh battery and 128GB of storage. The main camera is 48MP, then there's a 2MP macro lens, a 16MP "action cam," and the addition of laser autofocus.

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Goodbye, John Legere: CEO leaves as T-Mobile completes Sprint merger

Ars Technica - April 1, 2020 - 4:13pm

Enlarge / T-Mobile CEO John Legere waves during an interview on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, April 30, 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

T-Mobile completed its $31 billion acquisition of Sprint today and announced that CEO John Legere has resigned from the carrier's top job a month sooner than planned.

With today's close, T-Mobile said it has "successfully completed its long-planned Chief Executive Officer transition from John Legere to Mike Sievert ahead of schedule." T-Mobile had previously said Legere would leave at the end of April.

"I had originally planned to stay on through the end of my contract on April 30, 2020, but it makes much more sense to transition this responsibility to Mike today," Legere said. Legere "will continue as a member of the Board of Directors for the remainder of his current term, through the Annual Meeting of Shareholders scheduled in June 2020," the carrier said.

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The world’s largest aircraft will now test hypersonics for the military

Ars Technica - April 1, 2020 - 4:01pm

Nearly a decade ago, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen founded Stratolaunch to build an aircraft capable of launching orbital rockets. At the time, the company's leadership included a host of luminous spaceflight officials, including former NASA chief Mike Griffin, who said the Stratolaunch aircraft “would make a very effective launcher."

Initially, the company planned to launch rockets built by SpaceX. But over time, the company's plans changed to fly Pegasus rockets built by Orbital ATK. Eventually, Stratolaunch dropped this idea and announced that it was developing its own line of rockets.

Alas, the aircraft never did prove to be an effective launcher. In fact, what became the world's largest airplane took flight just one time, in April, 2019. The Stratolaunch plane reached speeds above 300km/h and heights of 5km during its 150-minute test flight before landing safely at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

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Coronavirus: How can you stop the spread of misinformation?

BBC Technology News - April 1, 2020 - 3:47pm
Think before you share and check the source are among the tips the public is being urged to adopt.

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