posted about 7 hours ago on ars technica
At this very moment, you're a participant in one of the things that makes us human: the telling and consumption of stories. It's impossible to say when our species began telling each other stories—or when we first evolved the ability to use language to communicate not only simple, practical concepts but to share vivid accounts of events real or imagined. But by 43,900 years ago, people on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi had started painting some of their stories in images on cave walls. A newly-discovered painting in a remote cave depicts a hunting scene, and it's the oldest story that's been recorded. And if Griffith University archaeologist Maxime Aubert and his colleagues are right, it could also be the first record of spiritual belief—and our first insight into what the makers of cave art were thinking. A 44,000-year-old hunting story Across a 4.5 meter (14.8 foot) section of rock wall, 3 meters (9.8 feet) above the floor of a hard-to-reach upper chamber of a site called Liang Bulu'Sipong 4, wild pigs and dwarf buffalo called anoa face off against a group of strangely tiny hunters in monochrome dark red. A dark red hand stencil adorns the left end of the mural, almost like an ancient artist's signature. Through an opening in the northeast wall of the cave, sunlight spills in to illuminate the scene. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 8 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino) There are more ultra-mobile professionals now than ever before, which is why OEMs are developing increasingly thin-and-light laptops that will appeal to those users. No one wants to add heft to their bag, regardless of whether they're going off on a 10-hour flight or a 10-minute commute to work, thus increasing the appeal of thin-and-light laptops. But the most mobile among us will only go as thin and light as our performance needs allow us to—if a laptop isn't powerful or efficient enough to help you get work done, its svelte characteristics won't make up for that. Enter the HP Elite Dragonfly two-in-one laptop, which is HP's answer to this problem. It's an ultra-slim laptop with a MIL-spec-tested design that weighs just 2.18 pounds, and it has the power and security features of one of HP's Elite series laptops. HP is betting on the idea that professionals will choose the thinnest and lightest laptop possible that doesn't compromise the performance or battery life they need to get things done regardless of their location—and that they'll pay top dollar to get it. We spent a few days with the Elite Dragonfly convertible to see how well-designed it actually is and to see if taking thin and light to the extreme hinders any necessities. Look and feel Specs at a glance: HP Elite Dragonfly two-in-one laptop As reviewed Lowest Best Screen 13.3-inch FHD (1920×1080) touchscreen 13.3-inch FHD (1920×1080) touchscreen 13.3-inch 4K (3840×2160) touchscreen OS Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home Windows Pro 64 CPU Core i7-8665U Intel Core i5-8265U Core i7-8665U w/ vPro RAM 16GB 8GB 16GB HDD 512GB PCIe SSD + 32GB Optane Memory 256GB PCIe SSD 512GB PCIe SSD + 32GB Optane Memory GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620 Networking Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 5 (2×2), Bluetooth 4.2 Ports 2 x Thunderbolt 3, 1 x USB-A, 1 x HDMI, 1 x nano SIM, 1 x lock slot, 1 x 3.5mm headphone jack Size 11.98×7.78×0.63 inches (304×198×16mm) Weight 2.5 pounds (40 ounces) 2.18 pounds (34.0 ounces) 2.5 pounds (40 ounces) Battery 56.2Wh battery 38Wh battery 56.2Wh battery Warranty 1 year Extras Fingerprint reader, IR camera, optional vPro, optional LTE, TPM 2.0, absolute persistence module, power-on authentication, HP DriveLock and Automatic DriveLock, HP Sure Click, HP Secure Erase, HP Sure Start, HP Sure Run, HP Sure Recovery, HP Sure Sense, HP BIOSphere Price $2,169 $1,549 (available at this price point soon) $2,369 HP Elite Dragonfly laptop Starting at $1,629 from HP (Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.) Design and durability Being part of the Elite family, the Elite Dragonfly laptop had to adhere to certain durability and performance standards that users are accustomed to from that line. We'll get to the performance chops in a bit, but from a design perspective, the Elite Dragonfly surprised me. Read 23 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted about 9 hours ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Chesnot / Getty Images) The world of cryptocurrency has no shortage of imaginary investment products. Fake coins. Fake blockchain services. Fake cryptocurrency exchanges. Now five men behind a company called BitClub Network are accused of a $722 million scam that allegedly preyed on victims who thought they were investing in a pool of bitcoin mining equipment. Federal prosecutors call the case a “high-tech” plot in the “complex world of cryptocurrency.” But it has all the hallmarks of a classic pyramid scheme, albeit with a crypto-centric conceit. Investors were invited to send BitClub Network cash, which would allow the company to buy mining equipment—machines that produce bitcoin through a process called hashing. When those machines were turned on, all would (in theory) enjoy the spoils. The company also allegedly gave rewards to existing investors in exchange for recruiting others to join. According to the complaint, the scheme began in April 2014 and continued until earlier this month. Matthew Brent Goettsche, Jobadiah Sinclair Weeks, and Silviu Catalin Balaci are accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to offer and sell unregistered securities. A fourth defendant, Joseph Frank Abel, faces only the latter charge. Another unnamed defendant remains at large. Balaci’s name was redacted from one public version of the indictment, but appeared on another. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com. The full name of this game is Unmatched: Battle of Legends, Volume One. That last bit is important because there is more Unmatched coming. This first set allows us to answer important questions like: who would win in a fight between King Arthur and Sinbad? What if Alice ventured out of Wonderland to carve up Medusa? The matchups in this absurdist fight club are bonkers, and we’re only getting started. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... Restoration Games is the noteworthy publisher that has brought us new editions of classic games like Fireball Island and Stop Thief! Those designs were given a few nips and tucks, a couple of injections of Botox, and a new wardrobe. They’re fresh, but they’re also grounded in the past, and they know how to put nostalgia to good use. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: EFF) More than 13,000 artificial intelligence mavens flocked to Vancouver this week for the world’s leading academic AI conference, NeurIPS. The venue included a maze of colorful corporate booths aiming to lure recruits for projects like software that plays doctor. Google handed out free luggage scales and socks depicting the colorful bikes employees ride on its campus while IBM offered hats emblazoned with “I ❤️A.” Tuesday night, Google and Uber hosted well-lubricated, over-subscribed parties. At a bleary 8:30 the next morning, one of Google’s top researchers gave a keynote with a sobering message about AI’s future. Blaise Aguera y Arcas praised the revolutionary technique known as deep learning that has seen teams like his get phones to recognize faces and voices. He also lamented the limitations of that technology, which involves designing software called artificial neural networks that can get better at a specific task by experience or seeing labeled examples of correct answers. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 1 day ago on ars technica
Enlarge It’s that time of year again—time to buy more board games than you possibly have time to play. To aid you in your quest, we’ve once again updated our massive board game buyer’s guide for the year by adding new entries, pruning some old ones, and bringing things in line with our current thoughts. This isn’t necessarily a list of our favorite games of all time; it’s just a big list of games we’re recommending in 2019. The list is divided into sections that cater to different audiences, and we think there’s something here for just about everyone. Whether you’re looking to pick up your next cardboard obsession or need a gift idea for your weird cousin who’s always going on about “efficient resource trade routes,” you’re in the right place. Read 175 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, and Karen Gillan star in Jumanji: The Next Level. (credit: Sony Pictures) The intrepid gang of teens who played their way out of a video game two years ago is back and facing a new in-game adventure in Jumanji: The Next Level, the latest installment in the popular franchise that originated with the 1995 film Jumanji. It's a solid sequel, following the same winning formula that made its predecessor such a big success. (Spoilers for 1995's Jumanji and 2017's Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle; mild spoilers for Jumanji: The Next Level.) The franchise has its roots in a 1981 fantasy children's book by Chris van Allsburg, about two children who discover a jungle adventure board game with the ominous warning, "Do not begin unless you intend to finish." The original 1995 film adaption followed the basic premise pretty closely, although it added several characters, most notably Robin Williams as a grown Alan Parrish and his childhood friend Sarah Whittle (Bonnie Hunt). As a young boy in 1969, Alan finds a supernatural board game called Jumanji and begins to play with Sarah. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / iOS 13 on an iPhone 11 Pro. (credit: Samuel Axon) A bug in iOS 13.3 allows children to easily circumvent the restrictions their parents or guardians set with the Communications Limit feature in Screen Time. Apple has said it plans to fix the problem in a future software update. The iOS 13.3 update released earlier this week added the ability for parents to whitelist contacts for their kids to communicate with. Kids need the parents to input a passcode to talk to anyone not on the list, with an exception made for emergency services like 911. It was the flagship feature of the update. Yesterday, CNBC published a report detailing a bug that allowed kids to easily circumvent the restrictions. It turns out that when contacts are not set to sync with iCloud by default, texts or calls from unknown numbers present children with the option to add the number as a new contact. Once that step has been taken, they can communicate freely with the contact. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / You're not the only one looking at your phone's location history. (credit: Omar Marques | SOPA Images | Getty Images ) Federal investigators trying to solve arson cases in Wisconsin have scooped up location history data for about 1,500 phones that happened to be in the area, enhancing concerns about privacy in the mobile Internet era. Four Milwaukee-area arsons since 2018, as yet unsolved, have resulted in more than $50,000 of property damage as well as the deaths of two dogs, Forbes explains. In an attempt to find the person or persons responsible, officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) obtained search warrants to gather data about all the devices in the area at the time. The two warrants Forbes obtained together covered about nine hours' worth of activity within 29,400 square meters—an area a smidge larger than an average Milwaukee city block. Google found records for 1,494 devices matching the ATF's parameters and sent the data along. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The Pixelbook Go. (credit: Valentina Palladino) The Pixelbook Go is Google's latest swing at a high-end, flagship laptop for Chrome OS. The device was announced and shipped in October, but only the mid- and low-end models. As first spotted by Chrome Unboxed, the laptop's highest end configuration is now available for $1,399. The new $1,300 model upgrades the Pixelbook Go to a 13.3-inch, 3840x2160 (331ppi) touchscreen LCD, an Intel Core i7-8500Y, 256GB of eMMC storage, and a 56WH battery. Like the $999 version, you get 16GB of RAM. Those specs are super-overkill for running a Web browser, but remember, you can run Android and Linux apps on Chromebooks now, so maybe you'll find a way to make use of them. If you're really concerned about non-Web-browser tasks though, for $1,300, you might just want to buy a regular Windows, Mac, or Linux laptop and not deal with the restrictions of Chrome OS. The Pixelbook Go has a nice keyboard and a grippy bottom design, but it mostly earned a firm rating of "average" in our review. There is little that makes it stand out from the competition. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The Federal Communications Commission seal hangs inside a meeting room at the headquarters ahead of an open commission meeting in Washington, DC, on Thursday, December 14, 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg) Mozilla and other organizations today appealed the court ruling that upheld the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules, arguing that the FCC's claim that broadband isn't telecommunications should not have been accepted by judges. The FCC repeal was upheld in October by a three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The court had some good news for net neutrality supporters because it vacated the FCC's attempt to preempt all current and future state net neutrality laws. But Mozilla and others aren't giving up hope on reinstating the FCC rules nationwide. The Mozilla petition filed today asks for an en banc rehearing of the case involving all of the DC Circuit judges. Mozilla is probably facing an uphill battle because the three-judge panel unanimously agreed that the FCC can repeal its own net neutrality rules. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: pitju / Adobe Stock) In an earlier deep learning article, we talked about how inference workloads—the use of already-trained neural networks to analyze data—can run on fairly cheap hardware, but running the training workload that the neural network "learns" on is orders of magnitude more expensive. In particular, the more potential inputs you have to an algorithm, the more out of control your scaling problem gets when analyzing its problem space. This is where MACH, a research project authored by Rice University's Tharun Medini and Anshumali Shrivastava, comes in. MACH is an acronym for Merged Average Classifiers via Hashing, and according to lead researcher Shrivastava, "[its] training times are about 7-10 times faster, and... memory footprints are 2-4 times smaller" than those of previous large-scale deep learning techniques. In describing the scale of extreme classification problems, Medini refers to online shopping search queries, noting that "there are easily more than 100 million products online." This is, if anything, conservative—one data company claimed Amazon US alone sold 606 million separate products, with the entire company offering more than three billion products worldwide. Another company reckons the US product count at 353 million. Medini continues, "a neural network that takes search input and predicts from 100 million outputs, or products, will typically end up with about 2,000 parameters per product. So you multiply those, and the final layer of the neural network is 200 billion parameters ... [and] I'm talking about a very, very dead simple neural network model." Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Steven Puetzer) AT&T doesn't want its home Internet speeds to be measured by the Federal Communications Commission anymore, and it already convinced the FCC to exclude its worst speed-test results from an annual government report. "AT&T this year told the commission it will no longer cooperate with the FCC's SamKnows speed test," The Wall Street Journal wrote in an investigative report titled "Your Internet provider likely juiced its official speed scores." AT&T already convinced the FCC to exclude certain DSL test results from last year's Measuring Broadband America report. The reports are based on the SamKnows testing equipment installed in thousands of homes across the US. Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 2 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Everyone has someone in their life who demands the latest and greatest. This is the tech we think qualifies. (credit: Flashpop / Getty Images) The last installment in our five-part holiday gift guide series this year is tailored for power users—those who know their way around technology and feel uneasy settling for gear that doesn’t provide high performance. The nine gadgets we’ve rounded up below may be overkill for most of the people in your life, but they should satisfy those who consider themselves enthusiasts in some way. Per usual, we’ve curated these recommendations based on hands-on testing we’ve done over the course of 2019. If none of these items fit your shopping list’s needs, though, take a look at our previous gift guides for the home, the office, the road, and affordable gadgets for additional inspiration. For now, though, let’s indulge a little in the latest and greatest tech. Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs. Read 31 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 3 days ago on ars technica
This is the 2020 Mazda CX-30, the company's latest subcompact crossover. [credit: Jonathan Gitlin ] SAN DIEGO—The new Mazda CX-30 is a strange and wonderful thing—a subcompact crossover you'll really enjoy driving. Sitting between the diminutive CX-3 and the heftier CX-5, it is an all-new model for Mazda that shares the same new Skyactiv vehicle architecture as the Mazda 3 we tried out at the start of the year. (It might have been called the CX-4 had that moniker not already been pressed into action for a China-only crossover.) The CX-30 is not particularly fast. It boasts no sporting pretensions. It's also not really that expensive—the lineup starts at just under $22,000 for a front-wheel-drive spec, and a fully loaded all-wheel drive model with all the doodads still slips in under $30,000 unless you want that eye-catching Soul Red paint. But it has a well-appointed interior that, like the Mazda 3, punches well above its price bracket. You control everything with buttons and knobs and dials—no touchscreens are to be found here. And it yet again confirms that the Hiroshima-based car maker really does know how to imbue its vehicles with jinba ittai—a Japanese expression meaning the horse and rider acting as one. Drive it fast, slow, in traffic, on the freeway, or on your favorite back road—it doesn't matter. It all puts a smile on your face. Which is crazy—everyone knows that crossovers aren't supposed to be pleasurable to drive, right? Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 3 days ago on ars technica
Xbox Series X. It's tall. And it has a modified controller compared to the Xbox One pad. The next Xbox console, slated to launch in holiday 2020, finally has a name: Xbox Series X. The system that was formerly dubbed Project Scarlett also has a bold, vertical design and a slightly modified controller, as seen in the above gallery. Xbox chief Phil Spencer took the stage at Thursday night's The Game Awards to reveal the new monolith-shaped console, which Gamespot reports is roughly as wide as an Xbox One controller and roughly three times as tall. Its appearance came at the end of a trailer full of apparent Xbox Series X "real-time" rendering, which included Halo's Master Chief, a red sports car (potentially from the Xbox-exclusive racing series Forza), and a soccer match. Important details were confirmed by a few angles of the new Xbox console: an apparent disc drive; a vent-covered top with either painted or backlit green coloring; and a slightly modified update to the Xbox One gamepad. This new controller looks largely like the current generation's default controller, but it has a new circle base to its d-pad and a new button in the controller's middle that resembles an "upload" icon from Windows. Spencer has confirmed that this will function as a "share" button, much like a similar button on PlayStation 4's DualShock 4, and that the new Series X controller will be compatible with existing Xbox One systems, not just the new Xbox Series X. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 3 days ago on ars technica
Lizzy Caplan portrays Annie Wilkes, one of Stephen King's most memorable characters—from the novel Misery—in the second season of Hulu's anthology series, Castle Rock. A nurse on the run with her teenaged daughter ends up stranded in a small Maine town where something evil lurks in the second season of Castle Rock, Hulu's psychological horror anthology series that draws inspiration from the works of Stephen King. The series was a surprising breakout hit last summer, and this new season doesn't disappoint, bringing the same slow burn and unexpected twists leading to a riveting finale. (Mild spoilers for season one and season two below.) The fictional town of Castle Rock features in so many of King's novels that co-creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason thought they could use it as an organizing principle for their storytelling. The series is less a direct adaptation of King's works and more new stories set in the fictional town that occasionally bump up against various books. The biggest King influences for season one were The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile—in other words, a prison-centric setting with themes of crime and punishment. Shawshank tells the story of a prisoner's disappearance, while Castle Rock's focus is the mysterious appearance of a prisoner nobody knew about. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 3 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Tofurky's bourbon glazed ham. (credit: Tofurky) A federal judge on Tuesday roasted Arkansas' law banning makers of meatless meat products from using words such as "burger," "sausage," "roast," and "meat" in their labeling. The law also established fines of $1,000 for each individual label in violation. Known as Act 501, the law passed state lawmakers in March but has yet to be enforced. If it had, meatless-meat makers, such as Tofurky, would be forced to stop selling their products in the state, face a ruinous amount of fines, or change their labeling of meatless burgers and sausages to unappetizing and vague descriptors, such as "savory plant-based protein" and "veggie tubes." The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Good Food Institute, and Animal Legal Defense Fund challenged Act 501 on behalf of Tofurky in July. Together, the groups argued that the law amounted to a ham-fisted attempt by meat-backed lawmakers to protect the profits of the dairy and meat industry and stifle popular meatless competition. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 3 days ago on ars technica
Last month, the engineering department at Slack—an instant messaging platform commonly used for community and small business organization—released a new distributed VPN mesh tool called Nebula. It's difficult to coherently explain Nebula in a nutshell. According to the people on Slack's engineering team, they asked themselves "what is the easiest way to securely connect tens of thousands of computers, hosted at multiple cloud service providers in dozens of locations around the globe?" And (developing) Nebula was the best answer they had. It's a portable, scalable overlay networking tool that runs on most major platforms, including Linux, MacOS, and Windows, with some mobile device support planned for the near future. Nebula-transmitted data is fully encrypted using the Noise protocol framework, which is also used in modern, highly security-focused projects such as Signal and WireGuard. Unlike more traditional VPN technologies—including WireGuard—Nebula automatically and dynamically discovers available routes between nodes and sends traffic down the most efficient path between any two nodes rather than forcing everything through a central distribution point. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / An Amazon Ring security camera on display during an unveiling event on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. (credit: Andrew Burton | Bloomberg | Getty Images) A series of creepy Ring camera intrusions, including one where a stranger sang to an 8-year-old child and said he was Santa Claus, may be linked through a forum and associated livestream podcast, a new report finds. The cluster of hacks, first reported by local media outlets, have become national news in the past few days. In all the cases, some bad actor accessed indoor Ring cameras (not doorbells) and used them to harass, intimidate, or attempt to extort the residents. One family in Florida suddenly heard racist commentary about their teenage son coming from their Ring camera on Sunday night. On Monday, someone yelled at a couple in Georgia to "wake up." Another family, in Tennessee, heard a voice taunting their daughter through a camera in their kids' room on Tuesday. And in Texas yesterday, someone tried to demand a ransom to exit the household camera system, telling the homeowners to pay 50 bitcoin (roughly $360,000). Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 3 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Chris McLoughlin) The Federal Communications Commission plans to designate 988 as the short dialing code for the United States' suicide-prevention hotline. Much like 911 for general emergencies, 988 could be dialed by anyone undergoing a mental health crisis and/or considering suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can already be reached at 1-800-273-8255 (or 1-800-273-TALK), but the FCC today gave preliminary approval to a plan that would make 988 redirect to that hotline. The commission's unanimous vote approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks public comment on the plan. Once the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, there will be a 60-day period for taking public comments, and the FCC would finalize the plan after considering the public input. It could take another 18 months after that to implement 988 nationwide, depending on what requirements the FCC imposes on phone providers. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 3 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Google) Google's password checking feature has slowly been spreading across the Google ecosystem this past year. It started as the "Password Checkup" extension for desktop versions of Chrome, which would audit individual passwords when you entered them, and several months later it was integrated into every Google account as an on-demand audit you can run on all your saved passwords. Now, instead of a Chrome extension, Password Checkup is being integrated into the desktop and mobile versions of Chrome 79. All of these Password Checkup features work for people who have their username and password combos saved in Chrome and have them synced to Google's servers. Google figures that since it has a big (encrypted) database of all your passwords, it might as well compare them against a 4-billion-strong public list of compromised usernames and passwords that have been exposed in innumerable security breaches over the years. Any time Google hits a match, it notifies you that a specific set of credentials is public and unsafe and that you should probably change the password. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Ars Technica) Today, the Dealmaster's tech discount roundup is headlined by a deal on the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, which is currently down to $55. While this isn't the absolute lowest we've seen Nintendo's ergonomically friendly gamepad fall, it is the cheapest we've seen it in some time, as drops below $60 have been infrequent over the past year. The controller normally retails closer to its $70 MSRP. For reference, it only fell to $62 on Black Friday. The Pro Controller itself is worth it if you frequently use the Switch docked to a TV. As we note in our guide to the best Nintendo Switch accessories, it's much more akin to an Xbox One controller than the Switch's default Joy-Cons, whose tiny buttons and joysticks can become uncomfortable over time. The Switch Pro pad should present no such issues—its face buttons and triggers are sized more appropriately for adult hands, its joysticks are tight and responsive, its textured handles give plenty of room to grip, and it has an actual d-pad. Its battery lasts around 40 hours on a charge, which is excellent, and it can pair with a gaming PC over Bluetooth. The only big downsides are that getting it to work with those PCs can require a little extra setup and that there's no headphone jack for hooking up a headset. Still, it's a massive upgrade for those who get lots of mileage out of Nintendo's console. If you have no need for a better Switch gamepad, though, we also have a variety of deals on Switch console bundles, the latest Apple iPad, a deal that pairs an Echo Dot with a month of Amazon's Music Unlimited service for $1 extra, sales on various Anker accessories, a discount on Ars-approved board game Azul, and more. Check them all out in the full list below. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / How long will this be a common sight in malls across America? (credit: Flickr / JeepersMedia) Things continue to look rough for struggling brick-and-mortar game retailer GameStop. This week, the company announced comparable store sales were down 23.2 percent year-over-year for the third quarter of 2019. It's a decrease led by a whopping 45.8 percent decline in hardware sales and a 32.6 percent fall in software sales. Those are hard numbers to spin, especially when they're leading to corporate layoffs and hundreds of store shutdowns (including the newly announced shuttering of all GameStop stores in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden by the end of 2020). But GameStop CEO George Sherman attempted to put a good face on the results in an earnings call this week. There, he argued GameStop's current troubles are a predictable result of the end of the current console generation—and consumer anticipation of upcoming consoles from Sony and Microsoft—as much as anything else. "With 'generation nine' consoles on the horizon set to bring excitement and significant innovation to the video game space, those anticipated releases in late 2020 are putting pressure on the current generation of consoles and related games, as consumers wait for new technology and publishers address their software delivery plans," Sherman said. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / This image depicts a child with a mumps infection. Note the characteristic swollen neck region due to an enlargement of the boy’s salivary glands. (credit: CDC) With a one-sentence order Tuesday, an Arkansas judge rejected a request from two unvaccinated University of Arkansas students to have the court block a public health decree that temporarily bars them from classes amid a mumps outbreak. The Arkansas Department of Health reported that as of December 5, there have been 26 cases of mumps at the university since September. Twenty of those cases occurred in November. According to a recent report in The Washington Post, the outbreak decleated the school’s already struggling football team, knocking out as many as 15 players and a few coaches from the end of its dismal two-win season. On November 22, the health department issued a directive that any student who had not received two doses of the MMR vaccine (which protects against mumps, measles, and rubella) must either get vaccinated immediately or be barred from classes and school activities for 26 days. As of last week,168 students lacked the vaccinations and were barred from classes. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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