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Mars InSight's 'Mole' Is Moving Again

Slashdot - October 18, 2019 - 10:45pm
Categories: Geek, Opinion

Two women completed a seven-hour spacewalk on Friday

Ars Technica - October 18, 2019 - 10:20pm

Two American astronauts made history on Friday when they performed a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station—it was the first all-woman extravehicular activity (EVA). Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir spent 7 hours and 17 minutes outside the station.

The pair, who are best friends, worked well together. Not only did they complete the primary task of replacing a failed power charging unit, which is already operating properly, but they also performed several extra tasks. While the astronauts recognized the achievement, they sought to play down the significance of the moment. "You know, for us, this is really just us doing our job," Meir said during NASA's broadcast of the spacewalk. "It’s something we’ve been training for for six years, and preparing for."

That seemed to be the attitude of most NASA people following the event—that this was a good milestone, and an important one for NASA to get past. (Especially after NASA had to cancel the first all-female EVA back in March). But in the future, this shouldn't be a notable thing. "I think the milestone is hopefully this will now be considered normal," NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson said Friday. "I think many of us are looking forward to this just being normal."

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Man has massive, rotting scrotum removed after avoiding doctors for decades

Ars Technica - October 18, 2019 - 9:04pm

Enlarge (credit: Getty )

After three decades of progressive symptoms, a 43-year-old man from Panama was rushed into emergency surgery with a massively swollen scrotum that hung past the level of his knees and had begun to rot and ooze foul-smelling pus, a team of Texas doctors reports.

CT imaging illustrating impressive scrotal edema and massive inguinal hernia. (credit: Dowd et al.)

When he arrived at the hospital, he had a fever of 102.2° F (39° C) and rapid heart rate, as well as extensive swelling and thickened skin in his scrotum and upper right leg. He also had two open wounds in his scrotum. Further imaging of his abdomen and pelvis revealed a large hernia containing part of his colon, as well as a huge abscess, considerable tissue damage, and fluid collection. (You can see NSFW images of his condition here.)

Fearing the ravages of gangrene and sepsis—a life-threatening response to infection—the doctors quickly wheeled him to an operating room to try to remove the rotting flesh. Pathologists examining tissue from his scrotum found extensive inflammation and that some of his skin had begun to liquify.

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Report: Home builders ditch Nest products after Google takeover

Ars Technica - October 18, 2019 - 8:38pm

Enlarge / Coming soon to a Nest near you: Your Google account. (credit: Google Nest)

Google's "Nest" smart home division has seen major upheaval this year, and according to a report from Bloomberg, the changes aren't sitting well with residential builders who formerly integrated Nest products into their construction projects.

This year, we finally started seeing results from Nest's 2018 demotion from a standalone Alphabet company to a merger with Google. "Nest" is no longer a line of products developed by a company or division and now seems to be a general-purpose sub-brand for any of Google's smart home devices. We've seen several existing product lines be rebranded from "Google" to "Google Nest" like the Google Nest Mini (formerly the Google Home Mini), the Google Nest Hub (formerly the Google Home Hub), the Nest Wifi (formerly Google Wifi), and the Google Nest Learning Thermostat (formerly the Nest Learning Thermostat).

In addition to the death of Nest the company, we're also seeing the death of the Nest ecosystem. The "Works with Nest" smart home program is being shut down in favor of Google Assistant compatibility, and that means devices that used to communicate with Nest now work differently or not at all. Nest's account system is also being shut down, and in the future, users will need a Google account.

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AT&T hits online TV customers with second big price increase this year

Ars Technica - October 18, 2019 - 7:56pm

(credit: Aurich Lawson)

AT&T is rolling out another batch of price increases for AT&T TV Now, the online streaming service formerly known as DirecTV Now.

The AT&T TV Now "Plus" package that contains 45 channels and costs $50 a month will rise to $65, AT&T told Ars. Customers on some other plans will get a $10 increase, AT&T said. That means the "Max" plan with 60 channels will go from $70 to $80, but plans with more channels that range in price from $86 to $135 will stay at the current prices, AT&T told us.

Notices of the increases are being sent to existing customers, so the price hikes will affect both new and existing users.

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“You’re going to flip”: Motorola teases the new Razr in November event invitation

Ars Technica - October 18, 2019 - 7:42pm

Motorola and parent company Lenovo have invited press outlets to a product unveiling event on November 13 in Los Angeles that has enthusiasts speculating about the potential imminent announcement of a new Razr phone.

As reported by CNET, an invitation went out with taglines like "an original unlike any other," "you're going to flip," and "highly anticipated unveiling of a reinvented icon." Accompanying the invitation was an animated image depicting the original Razr phone hinge design being peeled back to reveal another, partially obscured device that is clearly meant to look like a foldable device. Given that, it's hard to imagine this event as anything other than a Razr event.

Despite a dearth of reliable information or confirmations, the Razr reboot has become one of the most anticipated smartphone releases among gadget enthusiasts. It's understandable; the Razr V3 was the first cell phone to achieve pop culture icon status, thanks to aggressive, fashion-oriented marketing, among other things. More than 130 million Razr phones were sold over several years after it was announced. It's one of only a few specific phones even today that many consumers in the general public could recall by brand name.

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Frontier gets away with “paltry” settlement after breaking 35 laws and rules

Ars Technica - October 18, 2019 - 6:18pm

Enlarge / A Frontier Communications service van. (credit: Mike Mozart)

Minnesota regulators are letting Frontier Communications settle an investigation without admitting fault, despite the state attorney general's office calling the settlement "paltry compared with Frontier's alleged misconduct."

Frontier failed to properly maintain its telecom network in Minnesota, leading to "frequent and lengthy" phone and Internet outages, the Minnesota Commerce Department said in January. Frontier also failed to provide refunds or bill credits to customers affected by outages that sometimes lasted for months, committed frequent billing errors that caused customers to pay for services they didn't order, and failed to promptly provide telephone service to all customers who requested it, the department's investigation found.

The Commerce Department in August announced a proposed settlement in which Frontier agreed to offer refunds to customers for problems dating back to November 2015, and to improve future service quality, customer service, and billing practices. The settlement would expire in two years if Frontier is in "substantial compliance" with its terms.

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Archaeologists unearth a Bronze Age warrior’s personal toolkit

Ars Technica - October 18, 2019 - 6:05pm

The contents of the Bronze Age toolkit with the mud cleaned off. (credit: V. Minkus)

Three-thousand years ago, at least 140 fighters died in a battle along the banks of Germany’s Tollense River. One of the fallen dropped a small kit containing tools and a handful of bronze scraps. Based on the types of artifacts archaeologists found in this kit, they've concluded that at least some of the combatants in the prehistoric battle probably came from hundreds of kilometers away in Central or even Southern Europe.

According to University of Göttingen archaeologist Tobias Uhlig and his colleagues, that suggests that large-scale battles between far-flung groups began long before people in Europe had developed a system of writing to record the history of their conflicts.

An ancient battlefield

Today, quiet pastures flanked by woods line the banks of the Tollense River in Northeastern Germany. But beneath the green grass and the placid surface of the water, the 3,000-year-old remains of fallen soldiers and their broken weapons lie scattered for at least 2.5km along the river. Most of what we know of the European Bronze Age comes from more peaceful contexts, like settlement or burial sites; the bones, weapons, and personal effects along the Tollense River are the only archaeological evidence (so far) of a battle in prehistoric Europe.

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Project Xcloud preview serves as a passable, portable Xbox One

Ars Technica - October 18, 2019 - 5:49pm

Through nearly two decades of Xbox game consoles, Microsoft has never followed Nintendo's and Sony's lead in attempting to create a dedicated portable gaming system. Project Xcloud, which entered a limited public beta test this week, is an interesting end-run attempt at filling in that hole. Instead of downloadable games running locally, you stream games running on powerful remote servers over Wi-Fi. Instead of dedicated hardware, you use the smartphone you probably already own.

After spending a few days playing "portable" Xbox One games at home via Xcloud, we're somewhat warming up to the idea. But there are enough hassles and caveats that we're glad Xcloud isn't serving as a full-on replacement for Microsoft's existing gaming strategy just yet.

Head in the clouds

After getting approved for the preview, setting up our Xcloud test was as simple as logging in to the free Android app with a Microsoft account and connecting the controller via Bluetooth. There were about 60 seconds of loading when first starting up a game, but much less when switching back to an existing game after briefly moving to another app on the phone.

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The Pixel 4’s face unlock works on sleeping, unconscious people

Ars Technica - October 18, 2019 - 5:25pm

Google's recently announced Pixel 4 has a new biometric feature—well, new for Google, at least—face unlock. Like most new biometric systems, that means we'll probably be writing about security flaws in its implementation, and the first one has already popped up before the phone is even out. You don't need to have your eyes open for the Pixel 4's face unlock to work. The flaw was first publicized by the BBC's technology reporter, Chris Fox, who was able to get face unlock to work on several people with their eyes closed.

The thing about biometrics versus a password or PIN is that having to enter data via a keyboard is a pretty good indicator of consent. You're conscious, you're recalling this secret information, and you're typing it into the phone. You're at least aware of what's going on. Biometrics, on the other hand, are something other people can do for you, or to you. The easiest example is pointing a phone at a sleeping person to unlock it. You could also lift a person's finger and put it on a fingerprint reader, but at least you have to touch the victim to do that. There's a real lack of consent and awareness when you can just point the phone at an unconscious person.

Fox gives a great video example on Twitter:

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'WhatsApp tax' plan dropped in Lebanon

BBC Technology News - October 18, 2019 - 5:21pm
Protests continue in Lebanon despite the government backtracking on a new tax on WhatsApp calls.

Multifactor authentication issue hitting North American Azure, Office 365 users

ZDnet Blogs - October 18, 2019 - 5:21pm
MFA issues are impacting a number of Microsoft Azure and Office 365 customers in North America. So far, the causes aren't known, but Microsoft engineers say they're working on it.
Categories: Opinion

Mark Hurd, former Oracle co-CEO, dies at 62

ZDnet Blogs - October 18, 2019 - 5:17pm
Hurd took a leave of absence from Oracle in September.
Categories: Opinion

Should all connected cars have a physical network kill switch?

Ars Technica - October 18, 2019 - 5:15pm

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

Connected cars should come with a kill switch. That's the take-home message—and the title—of a report by the group Consumer Watchdog. Software increasingly defines the vehicles we drive, and software can be exploited by nefarious people for nefarious means. The problem is compounded by the fact that automakers rely on software written by third parties, including open source software that is riddled with security holes, it says.

Therefore, to prevent "a 9/11-like cyber-attack on our cars," the report calls for physical "kill switches" to be built into new cars to allow them to be completely disconnected from the Internet. If carmakers don't agree to the report's recommendations by year's end, then "legislators and regulators should mandate these protections," it says.

Yes, there’s a modem in your new car

You may have noticed that it's becoming increasingly difficult to buy a new vehicle that doesn't feature an embedded modem in it. The benefits of a connected car are various, we're told. It enables onboard telematics that the car maker can use both to improve future products and to allow features like predictive maintenance alerts. And an Internet connection to the infotainment system opens up streaming media services alongside more traditional platforms like FM or satellite radio. In Europe, an onboard modem that can call emergency services in the event of a serious crash has been mandatory since last year.

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