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The PS5 will stand vertically on its own without the stand, but it can easily be bumped over. As you may have heard by now, we have received the PlayStation 5 at Ars' orbiting headquarters, ahead of its official launch on Nov. 12. We're still limited in just what we can tell you about the system itself until that launch gets a little closer. One thing we can talk about, though, is the console's design—that is, the physical shell that houses all those electronics. Sony's big boy The most striking thing about the PS5 case (especially the disc-drive-sporting version we received) remains just how big it is. We've known for a while that the PS5 was set to be the biggest console in decades, of course. But it's one thing to know that intellectually. It's another to see it in your home, dwarfing most any other piece of consumer electronics you've ever owned (as you can see in some of these photos). The Xbox Series X is plenty big, too, but it doesn't compare to Sony's big boy. [credit: Sam Machkovech ] When you lift the PS5, though, it feels a little lighter than you might expect, given its physical size. At 9.92 pounds, it's slightly less heavy than the (smaller) launch-era PlayStation 3, for instance. And while the PS5 is heavier than the 7.3 pound PS4 Pro, it feels much less dense than that earlier system when lifted.Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Welcome to Cooling Springs, just one portion of the adventure through a PS5's innards in Astro's Playroom. Astro's Playroom, included with every PlayStation 5, is clearly designed as a showcase of sorts for the system. The game takes players on a fantastical platforming adventure through an imagined version of the system's innards, and through 25+ years of PlayStation history itself. More than that, though, the game is the perfect showcase for the PlayStation 5's new DualSense controller, and the proprietary perks it has over previous DualShock controllers. But while Sony has hyped up the DualSense's fine-tuned haptic feedback and adaptive force triggers in recent months, the company has been largely silent on one of the controller's most subtly impactful features: the built-in speaker. Listen to your hands Sony clearly wanted us to notice this speaker when we received our PlayStation 5 hardware; we were told, both in email and over a video-call briefing, not to wear headphones when testing Astro's Playroom for the first time. This was confusing at first, since the game's tutorial doesn't even mention the built-in speaker while running through the controller's many features. But it doesn't take long to hear the thing in action, and it's much better than you might expect based on recent console history.Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / It looks like the cow is judging me—but that's OK, I'm about to judge the cow right back. (credit: Jim Salter) The Ice Lake-powered GWTN156-1BL we're reviewing today is one of an entire line of inexpensively manufactured, Gateway-branded laptops available exclusively at Walmart. We intended to review it last month, alongside its $350, Ryzen-powered little sibling the GWTN141-2—but it sold out so quickly we weren't able to get our hands on one until Walmart refreshed its stock last week. Although we're really only looking at the $500 Ice Lake version today, we'll include the specs for the $350 Ryzen-powered alternative as a refresher, since we expect a lot of people may hesitate between the two. Ultimately, both machines are at least reasonable purchases—but we think the cheaper GWTN141-2 is more compelling, despite being a wimpier machine overall. At $350, there aren't many laptop options available, and the GWTN141-2—despite its warts—comes out thoroughly on top. But at the GWTN156-1BL's $500, the market opens up considerably. Major manufacturers such as Lenovo, ASUS, and Acer all offer pretty reasonable designs for $550 or less. The refurbished market, on the other hand, still isn't very competitive—the best deals at under $600 tend to feature sixth-generation i5 CPUs which look paltry next to the Gateway's low-end Ice Lake.Read 28 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The magnetic fields inside a tokamak. (credit: Jong-Kyu Park, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory) Depending on who you ask, fusion power is either already here (but no one will purchase my sekrit design!), never going to happen (so stop wasting money!), or a difficult problem that might be a partial solution to an even more difficult problem. The last, being the view of scientists who actually work in the field, is often lost in all the noise. Out of this fog of discussion, a passel of papers emerged recently, all focused on a proposed fusion project: the SPARC tokamak. One of the surprising things about SPARC is its size. Coming in at just over 3m across, SPARC will be smaller than currently operating tokamaks, like JET, which is nearly 6m across. ITER, currently under construction in France, is over 12m across. Yet SPARC and ITER are projected to have about the same performance. Both are expected to produce more energy from fusion than the direct input energy, though neither is expected to produce useful power. So why the difference? And what does this latest batch of papers tell us about the design?Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Getty Images) Link previews are a ubiquitous feature found in just about every chat and messaging app, and with good reason. They make online conversations easier by providing images and text associated with the file that’s being linked. Unfortunately, they can also leak our sensitive data, consume our limited bandwidth, drain our batteries, and, in one case, expose links in chats that are supposed to be end-to-end encrypted. Among the worst offenders, according to research published on Monday, were messengers from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Line. More about that shortly. First a brief discussion of previews. When a sender includes a link in a message, the app will display the conversation along with text (usually a headline) and images that accompany the link. It usually looks something like this:Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Dafne Keen, Amir Wilson, Ruth Wilson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda reprise their roles for the second season of the BBC/HBO adaptation of Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials. His Dark Materials, the BBC/HBO adaptation of Philip Pullman's classic fantasy trilogy, received mixed reviews for its first season, although it still warranted an honorable mention in our 2019 year-end TV roundup. The second season debuts next month. HBO dropped the first S2 trailer in July during the virtual San Diego [email protected] and a second longer one in August. Now BBC has released yet another trailer that includes a short featurette, with cast interviews and some cool glimpses behind the scenes. (Spoilers for S1 and the Philip Pullman books below.) As we've written previously, the three books in Pullman's series are The Golden Compass (published as Northern Lights in the UK), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. They follow the adventures of a 12-year-old girl named Lyra, who lives in a fictional version of Oxford, England, circa the Victorian era. Everyone has a companion daemon in the form of an animal—part of their spirit that resides outside the body—and Lyra's is named Pantalaimon. Lyra uncovers a sinister plot that sends her on a journey to find her father in hopes of foiling said plot. That journey takes her to different dimensions (the fictional world is a multiverse) and ultimately to her own coming of age.Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The instrument used to detect the water flies on a 747. (credit: NASA/Jim Ross) Despite its proximity to a very blue planet, the Earth's Moon appeared to be completely dry, with samples returned by the Apollo missions being nearly devoid of water. But in recent years, a number of studies have turned up what appears to be water in some locations on the Moon, although the evidence wasn't always decisive. Today, NASA is announcing that it has used an airborne observatory to spot clear indications of water in unexpected places. But the water may be in a form that makes accessing it much harder. Separately, an analysis of spots where water could be easier to reach indicates that there's more potential reservoirs than we'd previously suspected. Up in the air With no atmosphere and low gravity, the Moon can't hang on to water on its surface. The first time that sunlight heats lunar water up, it will form a vapor and eventually escape into space. But there are regions on the Moon, primarily near the poles, that are permanently shadowed. There, temperatures remain perpetually low, and ice can survive indefinitely. And, to test this possibility, NASA crashed some hardware into a shady area near the Moon's south pole and found water vapor amidst the debris.Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: YouTube / Getty / Aurich Lawson) A popular tool used for archiving YouTube videos, YouTube-dl, is gone from GitHub after the Recording Industry Association of America filed a claim arguing that the code is inherently illegal under copyright law. GitHub, which is owned by Microsoft, removed 18 projects on Friday that previously hosted versions of YouTube-dl, a Python library that allows for the downloading of YouTube video and audio files. Those repositories now display a message reading, "This repository is currently disabled due to a DMCA takedown notice. We have disabled public access to the repository." Although the notice is framed as a DMCA issue, the takedown notice from the RIAA, dated Friday, does not make claim that YouTube-dl is an act of copyright infringement. Instead, it alleges that the code itself is a violation of a different section of Us copyright law (as well as German copyright law), because the "clear purpose of this source code is to... circumvent the technological protection measures used by authorized streaming services such as YouTube, and [to] reproduce and distribute music videos and sound recordings owned by our member companies without authorization for such use."Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Starlink logo imposed on stylized image of the Earth. (credit: Starlink) SpaceX has agreed to provide Internet service to 45 families in a Texas school district in early 2021 and to an additional 90 families later on, the school district announced last week. The announcement by Ector County Independent School District (ECISD) in Odessa said it will be the "first school district to utilize SpaceX satellites to provide Internet for students." "The project will initially provide free Internet service to 45 families in the Pleasant Farms area of south Ector County," the district said. "As the network capabilities continue to grow, it will expand to serve an additional 90 Ector County families." The Texas location is notable because the ongoing, limited Starlink beta exists only in the northern US, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has said an upcoming public beta will only be for the northern US and "hopefully" southern Canada. SpaceX has over 700 Starlink satellites in orbit, and will be able to expand the service area as it deploys more of the nearly 12,000 it has been authorized to launch. In Washington state, Starlink has been deployed to rural homes, a remote tribe, and emergency responders and families in wildfire-stricken areas.Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The OnePlus Nord N10. [credit: OnePlus ] After the Europe-only launch of the midrange OnePlus Nord earlier this year, OnePlus is finally bringing a cheaper phone to the United States with the OnePlus Nord N10 5G. It doesn't quite look like the slam dunk the original Nord was, though, and for a company that has "never settle" emblazoned across its press images, it kinda feels like we're settling here. OnePlus says the phone is coming to the US, but it only provided a UK price tag of 329 pounds ($427). For that, you get a 90Hz, 6.49-inch, 2400×1080 LCD—yes, an LCD and not an OLED display—a Snapdragon 690 SoC, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage, and a 4300mAh battery. The Snapdragon 690 is a fairly new eight-core Qualcomm SoC with two Cortex A77 cores, six Cortex A55 cores, and an Adreno 619 built on an 8nm process. Qualcomm's midrange chip lineup is kind of a mess right now, and you'd have to really break out the calipers to find significant differences between the Snapdragon 690 and the Snapdragon 765G on the European Nord. The 690 has a newer A77 main CPU core compared to the A76 on the 765G, but the 690 has a 200mHz lower clock. In benchmarks, the CPU and GPU numbers are basically a wash, but the 7nm 765G should be a bit lighter on your battery. Qualcomm docks the 690 a bunch of Qualcomm Model Number Points because it does not support mmWave 5G, but that seems irrelevant when most 765G phones opt to not support mmWave either. "The Snapdragon 765G with mmWave support sliced off" sounds like a close-enough shorthand description for this chip.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Even Santas are not safe during the pandemic. (credit: Getty | Kristy O'Connor) The Department of Health and Human Services has abandoned a deal to vaccinate Santa Claus performers as part of a $250-million taxpayer-funded public relations blitz, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to the nixed Santa plan, performers would have received special early access to a future vaccine against the pandemic coronavirus. In exchange, the Santa Clauses, Mrs. Clauses, and accompanying elves would have promoted the vaccine to the public and participated in regional holiday events organized by the Trump administration. Beginning to look a lot like chaos The deal was reportedly gifted from the troubled mind of Michael Caputo, the HHS spokesperson installed by the White House in April. Caputo had no background in health when he took the position. Instead, he was reportedly placed in the department as a way for the Trump administration to assert more control over HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Caputo is a Trump loyalist, protégé of Roger Stone, and former Moscow-based political adviser who worked on public relations for Vladimir Putin.Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A BE-4 rocket engine undergoes tests in West Texas. (credit: Blue Origin) Blue Origin appears to have solved some development issues related to the turbopumps in its powerful BE-4 rocket engine. United Launch Alliance chief executive Tory Bruno said Friday that the problem was "sorted out," and that the full-scale, flight-configured BE-4 engine is now accumulating a lot of time on the test stand. Bruno made his comments about one hour into The Space Show with David Livingston. Bruno's company, ULA, is buying the BE-4 engine to provide thrust for the first stage of its upcoming Vulcan-Centaur rocket. This booster may make its debut next year, although ULA is still awaiting delivery of BE-4s for the first flight. Two of these large engine—each providing about 25 percent more thrust than the RS-25s used on the Space Shuttle—will power each Vulcan rocket.Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Facebook's game streaming is focused on mobile games, But the titles can also be run in a browser on a desktop or laptop. Facebook is the latest tech giant to follow the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Amazon into the game streaming space. But Facebook's effort differs from the competition by focusing exclusively on the kind of free-to-play games that are "typically played on mobile devices." Facebook VP of Play Jason Rubin lays out the thinking behind this move in a blog post this morning. The company's new game streaming service won't be a separate platform, a la Microsoft xCloud, Google Stadia, or Amazon Luna. Instead, streamed titles will be integrated into Facebook's existing Instant Games platform, which hundreds of millions of players already use to run simple HTML5 games in the News Feed or a separate Gaming tab. "People will play cloud-streamed games right alongside those playing instant games in HTML5," Rubin writes. "And if we do our jobs right, you won’t notice how the games are delivered."Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Atticus, aka "Tic," walking the old familiar streets. [credit: YouTube/HBO ] A Black family in 1950s Chicago struggles to reclaim their lost ancestral legacy while warding off monsters and magic spells in HBO's Lovecraft Country, based on the 2016 dark fantasy/horror novel of the same name by Matt Ruff. Like the novel that inspired it, the series' pointed juxtaposition of supernatural Lovecraftian horrors against more mundane, but equally horrifying racial inequalities of that era is especially timely in a year that has seen widespread civil rights protests against the brutal killings of Black men (and women) by police officers. And social relevance aside, it also works as pure entertainment. (Some spoilers below, but no major reveals.) Set in the Jim Crow era of the 1950s, Ruff's book is structured as a series of short stories, although everything is inter-related. The first quarter of the book focuses on Atticus, a black Korean war veteran and big H.P. Lovecraft fan, despite the author's notorious racism. When his estranged father disappears after encountering a well-dressed white man driving a silver Cadillac, leaving a cryptic message, Atticus sets out on a road trip from Chicago's South Side to rural Massachusetts. He's accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia (aka Leti).Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The trailer for Hulu's John Bronco. John Bronco—Hulu's new sub-40-minute mockumentary about a "lost" "Ford pitchman"—is a good idea, well-executed. What if you took the competent-idiot Southern charm of Justified's Boyd Crowder, but, instead of an Appalachian criminal, made the character the unlikely pitchman for a beloved classic SUV, who oozes over-the-top marketable machismo a la the Marlboro Man? And... what if you can get Walton Goggins himself to play the S.O.B? To call that comedic premise excellent, well, "It'd be like saying, 'I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is just margarine...' which I guess it is," as one interviewee describes Bronco. In case the title alone doesn't explain the premise: sometime around the 1960s, Ford had a rugged SUV, called the Bronco, lined up for the masses. But it needed a way to sell this new contraption. The company decided it would enter a prototype of the vehicle in the Baja 1000, a famed off-road race. It needed someone tough enough to handle this beast of a vehicle and course, so it sought out whoever seemed to be the most rugged guy in the region—a rodeo champ named John Bronco. John Bronco chronicles the (to be clear, fictional) man's rise, fall, and disappearance before trying to figure out where the legendary ad icon is now. The team behind John Bronco—Director Jake Szymanski (HBO's Tour de Pharmacy) and producer Marc Gilbar—started on the idea in 2019 but ultimately timed the project for maximum impact when they learned Ford had real-life plans to relaunch the iconic Bronco late this summer. According to The Ringer, the team met directly with Ford and earned access to the company's marketing archives, which get mined thoroughly for aesthetic and pseudo-accuracy in the film. For instance: if you, too, were also born after the mid-1980s, maybe it'd be surprising to learn Doug Flutie had enough of a Q score to actually hawk cars for Ford in 1985 (though the original ad does not seem to end in tragedy).Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The all-wheel-drive Lamborghini Huracán Evo was determined to be too drama-free, so now Lamborghini has made a $214,366 rear-wheel-drive version. Which is a lot, but it's a massive $50,000 cheaper than the all-wheel-drive version we tested in 2019. [credit: Lamborghini ] "Hang back for a second so I can show you the course," Dean DiGiacomo says over the radio as we approach the skid pad in a pair of 610hp (455kW), Skittle-colored Huracáns. A professional racer and the chief instructor for Lamborghini's various performance schools—which range from customer track days to an intensive training programs for the automaker's Super Trofeo wheel-to-wheel racing series—DiGiacomo takes a moment to explain the vehicle settings I'll need to select before he sets off on a demonstration pass. The matte purple machine arcs gracefully from one cone of the figure eight to the next, V10 wailing as it turns rubber into smoke. Before I know it, DiGiacomo is already back in the pit area and it's my turn to give it a go. "Now, do it just like that," a photographer says to me with a knowing grin. We share a laugh. But how hard can it be, right?Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The trailer for The Witches Roald Dahl's 1983 children's fantasy novel The Witches begins with a simple declaration: "This is not a fairy tale." Witches, the unnamed boy narrator claims, are real. They live among us, demons indistinguishable from real women, hell-bent on murdering children. The boy is matter-of-fact about this frightening reality, but also urgent—he is relaying the immediate threat of a global network of bloodthirsty child predators. It's an intimate, conspiratorial opener, drawing readers in by whispering the secret truths grown-ups usually don't want them to know: not only is the world not safe for the young, it's unfair, treacherous, and cruel. As the story progresses, the narrator recounts his fateful encounter with the wicked Grand High Witch—the big, bad boss of all the witches around the world—along with every witch in England, a run-in that shapes his life. While on vacation with his grandmother at a seaside resort, he stumbles into a hush-hush witch conference, where the Grand High Witch explains a plot to turn all the world's children into mice. (The witches disguise themselves as a society against cruelty towards children.) In classic Dahl fashion, there's a surfeit of jokes about bodily functions, an unkind depiction of a fat kid as a greedy idiot, and vividly drawn villains who speak in rhyme. The boy and his grandmother ultimately foil the witches' scheme, but the ending is more melancholic than happily-ever-after: the narrator is transformed into a mouse by the witches; even after outwitting them, he cannot change back. He takes his predicament in stride, comforted by the knowledge that he won't outlive the only person in the world who loves him, but still—it's a children's story where the hero is doomed to premature death. Dark! It's a macabre, gripping tale, one which has remained a perennial favorite for kids since its debut more than 35 years ago. The Witches, like Dahl's best work, taps into a wavelength that acknowledges the dark edges of childhood in a way that so much young adult literature does not: puerile and mean and honest. People who hate children think they smell like shit. Strangers with candy have bad intentions. Parents die. And sometimes kids do too. The new adaptation of The Witches, out on HBO Max this week, doesn't totally carry this brutal worldview forward. It begins with a monologue modeled after the book's opener. It's narrated over a slide show that even includes snippets of Dahl's original text (including "Witches are REAL!"). But even though many of the words are the same, the tone is quite different. The narrator begins by sputtering out a cough, then says, "Alright, where were we?" as though he's a substitute teacher trying to figure out which slide of the presentation he's on. He also sounds unmistakably like Chris Rock. Because he is voiced by Chris Rock. No knock to Rock, who has an excellent voice—his "Lil' Penny" commercials should be playing on a loop in the Louvre—but his jocular, bemused timbre here conjures a much different atmosphere than the book's prologue. Instead of tugging viewers aside to offer a warning, it opens like a classroom lecture about something that happened long ago. It's the first of many signs that this version of The Witches, directed by Robert Zemeckis, is a substantial departure in sensibility from its source material.Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / It may not look like much, but that red line marks the Gales Creek fault. (credit: Horst et al./BSSA) Coastal denizens of the US Pacific Northwest are (or should be!) familiar with the significance of “the Big One”—a major earthquake just off the coast that will occur someday. The tectonic plate boundary, where oceanic crust slides downward beneath the North American continent, is capable of producing major shaking and an incredibly dangerous tsunami. This hasn’t happened in centuries, leading to a false sense of security, but the evidence is there for events deeper in the past. But the plate boundary itself isn’t the only source of seismic danger. Near Portland, for example, there are a number of smaller active faults. There have even been moderate earthquakes in recent years to serve as reminders. In 1993, a magnitude 5.7 quake just 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of the city caused around $30 million in damage. Here, too, seismologists can look deeper into the past. And it shows that much bigger earthquakes are possible. Forensic seismology Today, we measure and quantify earthquakes with seismometers, but it’s possible to find physical evidence that testifies to past earthquakes. Paleoseismology relies on the fact that some things move during an earthquake, displacing their position. In the right situation, you can even see about how much the fault moved and put a date on each event. That allows for a rough estimate of earthquake magnitude, as well as the average time between major earthquakes. (Note that this does not mean we can predict the date of the next one. Earthquakes are not clockwork events.)Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The shape says Aston Martin Bulldog, the materials say Delorean DMC12. [credit: Tesla ] The electric pickup trucks are here. Or almost here, at least. General Motors dropped a pretty penny to debut its new electric Hummer during the World Series on Tuesday, with a two minute, 15 second ad that took up an entire commercial break. But you won’t be able to drive the $112,595 truck off the lot until at least next fall. Tesla staged a smashing reveal for its Cybertruck pickup nearly a year ago, but it hasn’t yet built the factory in Texas that will make the thing—reservation holders can probably expect their truck late next year. Other contenders on the horizon include the Rivian R1T, which, after delays, should show up around June; the Lordstown Endurance(sometime in 2021); the Bollinger B2 (probably next year); the Ford F-150 EV(due mid-2022); and the Nikola Badger (thanks to the company’s leadership troubles, who knows). The competition for the hearts and minds of the American electric pickup truck buyer is bound to be intense. Here’s the problem: No one knows who that American electric pickup buyer is. “It’s not like people have been asking for this,” says Jessica Caldwell, the executive director of insights at Edmunds. “I don’t think people have been sitting around and thinking, ‘You now what I need? A pickup with an electric motor.’”Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Oil and gas industry and sunrise at a refinery in Fujian (credit: Getty Images) Russian state nationals accused of wielding life-threatening malware specifically designed to tamper with critical safety mechanisms at a petrochemical plant are now under sanction by the US Treasury Department. The attack drew considerable concern because it’s the first known time hackers have used malware designed to cause death or injury, a prospect that may have actually happened had it not been for a lucky series of events. The hackers—who have been linked to a Moscow-based research lab owned by the Russian government—have also targeted a second facility and been caught scanning US power grids. Now the Treasury Department is sanctioning the group, which is known as the State Research Center of the Russian Federation FGUP Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics or its Russian abbreviation TsNIIKhM. Under a provision in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, the US is designating the center for “knowingly engaging in significant activities undermining cybersecurity against any person, including a democratic institution, or government on behalf of the Government of the Russian Federation.”Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge Google Fi is now offering a new way to buy phones: a subscription plan. Instead of buying a device outright, you can now sign up for a two-year contract, tack a few bucks onto your monthly bill, and get a phone to go with your service plan. You have one entire device to pick from, the Pixel 4a (not the Pixel 5?). The basic contract is $9 a month for two years ($216 total), which will get you a Pixel 4a (MSRP $349) that is "yours to keep" at the end of the plan. From there, Google imagines you'll keep paying the subscription fee and pick up a new device, with the company proposing that you "upgrade to a new Pixel after 2 years." There's also an optional "device protection plan" for another $6 a month that Google says will "protect against accidental damage, loss or theft (except in NY), and out-of-warranty mechanical breakdown." That $6 a month won't actually get your phone repaired if something happens, however—there are deductibles on top of that. For the Pixel 4a, Google says it's an extra $49 for a screen replacement, $79 for a mechanical breakdown, and $99 for a theft replacement. Google is primarily pitching that you pick up the service plan with the phone, which works out to $15 a month for two years, a total of ($360).Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A vial of Remdesivir during a press conference about the start of a study with severely COVID-19 patients in Hamburg, Germany on April 8, 2020. (credit: Getty | Ulrich Perrey) The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday issued a full approval of the antiviral drug remdesivir for treating COVID-19—just days after a massive, global study concluded that the drug provides no benefit. “The FDA is committed to expediting the development and availability of COVID-19 treatments during this unprecedented public health emergency,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a statement. “Today’s approval is supported by data from multiple clinical trials that the agency has rigorously assessed and represents an important scientific milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic.” Early results The FDA made its decision based on three clinical trials on remdesivir, a repurposed experimental antiviral drug brand-named Veklury. One was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial run by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. It included 1,062 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 541 of which received remdesivir. The trial concluded that remdesivir shortened the median recovery time from the infection from 15 days to 10 days. The researchers running the trial defined “recovery” of a patient as either a patient being discharged from the hospital—regardless if the patient still had lingering symptoms that limited activities or required supplemental oxygen to be taken at home—or a patient remaining in the hospital but no longer requiring medical care, such as if they were kept in the hospital for infection-control reasons.Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / T-Mobile advertisement in New York City's Times Square on October 15, 2020. (credit: Getty Images | SOPA Images) The Federal Communications Commission has finished investigating T-Mobile for a network outage that Chairman Ajit Pai called "unacceptable." But instead of punishing the mobile carrier, the FCC is merely issuing a public notice to "remind" phone companies of "industry-accepted best practices" that could have prevented the T-Mobile outage. After the 12-hour nationwide outage on June 15 disrupted texting and calling services, including 911 emergency calls, Pai wrote that "The T-Mobile network outage is unacceptable" and that "the FCC is launching an investigation. We're demanding answers—and so are American consumers." Pai has a history of talking tough with carriers and not following up with punishments that might have a greater deterrence effect than sternly worded warnings. That appears to be what happened again yesterday when the FCC announced the findings from its investigation into T-Mobile. Pai said that "T-Mobile's outage was a failure" because the carrier didn't follow best practices that could have prevented or minimized it, but he announced no punishment. The matter appears to be closed based on yesterday's announcement, but we contacted Chairman Pai's office today to ask if any punishment of T-Mobile is forthcoming. We'll update this article if we get a response.Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The iPhone 12 Pro. As previously announced, Apple has begun shipping orders of the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and redesigned iPad Air today. This is the launch day for all three products, and new orders are no longer considered preorders on Apple's website. The products are also available in Apple's retail stores today. Note, though, that today marks the day the first preorders are shipping. Shortly after these products went on sale, shipping dates for new online orders began to creep beyond the release date and into November. And at the time of this writing, new orders of the iPhone 12 Pro models are shipping in the United States between November 13 and 20, Apple's website says, and the iPhone 12 is shipping between November 2 and 4. The iPad Air is shipping sometime between November 12 and 18. Apple has yet to begin shipping the smallest and largest new iPhone models—the 5.4-inch iPhone 12 mini and the 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max. Only the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are going out today. The other sizes will be available in November, Apple says, along with the new HomePod mini smart speaker.Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 6 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / This 2019 photo was taken in Poland, but McDonald's main virtue is that you pretty much know what you're getting with it anywhere in the world. (credit: Michal Fludra | NurPhoto | Getty Images) Burgers, fries, and McNuggets are the staples of McDonald's fare. But the chain also offers soft-serve ice cream in most of its 38,000+ locations. Or at least, theoretically it does. In reality, the ice cream machines are infamously prone to breaking down, routinely disappointing anyone trying to satisfy their midnight McFlurry craving. One enterprising software engineer, Rashiq Zahid, decided it's better to know if the ice cream machine is broken before you go. The solution? A bot to check ahead. Thus was born McBroken, which maps out all the McDonald's near you with a simple color-coded dot system: green if the ice cream machine is working and red if it's broken. The bot basically works through McDonald's mobile app, which you can use to place an order at any McDonald's location. If you can add an ice cream order to your cart, the theory goes, the machine at that location is working. If you can't, it's not. So Zahid took that idea and scaled up.Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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