posted 6 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Newt Scamander with an endangered bird he's hoping to release back into its native habitat in Arizona. (credit: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) The animals in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are so compelling that it’s easy to ignore the movie’s otherwise mediocre plot. That’s because the magizoologist character Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a science hero who has somehow found himself in a fantasy movie. Sure, he's a wizard who carries a massive lab around with him in a cunning suitcase that’s a lot bigger on the inside. But despite all the spell-casting, this Harry Potter prequel offers some of the most realistic representations of environmental research field work you’re likely to see in a movie this decade. Some spoilers ahead. C’mon people, you’ve had weeks to see this movie. Not everything about Fantastic Beasts is worthwhile, so let’s ignore the incoherent plot about temperance politics and the Magical Congress of the USA and Johnny Depp’s hair and anti-magical repression something something. None of it made any more sense than a standard episode of True Blood. Luckily, it felt like a backdrop to the real story of this film, which is about Newt coming to the United States so that he can release a giant, Cretaceous-looking magical bird back into its natural habitat. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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We're dealing with better tech these days—embrace it. (credit: Tony Young) Ever since the HDTV standard emerged in the mid-'00s, screen producers have struggled to come up with new standards that feel anywhere as impressive. That's been a tough sell, as no baseline image standard has yet surpassed the quality jump from CRT sets to clearer panels with 1080p resolution support. 3D content came and went, with its unpopularity owing to a few factors (aversion to glasses, hard-to-find content). The higher-res 4K standard is holding up a little better, but its jump in quality just doesn't move the needle for average viewers—and certainly not those sticking to modestly sized screens. But there's another standard that you may have heard about—high dynamic range, or HDR. It's a weird one. HDTV, 3D, and 4K have all been easy to quickly and accurately describe for newcomers ("more pixels," "one image per eye," etc.), but HDR's different. Ask an average TV salesperson what HDR is, and you'll usually get a vague response with adjectives like "brighter" and "more colorful." Brighter and more colorful than what, exactly? Read 41 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Elliott Brown) Millions of Americans still have extremely slow Internet speeds, a new Federal Communications Commission report shows. While the FCC defines broadband as download speeds of 25Mbps, about 47.5 million home or business Internet connections provided speeds below that threshold. Dealing with speeds a bit lower than the broadband standard isn't too horrible, but there are still millions with speeds that just aren't anywhere close to modern. Out of 102.2 million residential and business Internet connections, 22.4 million offered download speeds less than 10Mbps, with 5.8 million of those offering less than 3Mbps. About 25.1 million connections offered at least 10Mbps but less than 25Mbps. 54.7 million households had speeds of at least 25Mbps, with 15.4 million of those at 100Mbps or higher. These are the advertised speeds, not the actual speeds consumers receive. Some customers will end up with slower speeds than what they pay for. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Now I'm freeeeeeeee... free fallin' Way back in 2010, a full year after it was first announced as a PlayStation 3 game, The Last Guardian creator Fumito Ueda stressed to a Tokyo Game Show press conference audience that the key to the game he envisioned was developing an "emotional attachment" between the game's unnamed boy character and Trico, his three-story tall mythical animal-hybrid companion that combines elements of a bird, a dog, and a horse. Six years later, after finally completing Ueda's oft-delayed opus, I find that the main emotion I feel towards Trico, and the game he inhabits, is frustration. A beautiful disaster The Last Guardian plays out as one big joint escort quest, with Trico and the boy working together to escape the extremely intricate ruins of a crumbling tower complex built into the side of a cliff. Before I dig into what frustrated me so much about the game, I'd be remiss not to laud the architectural feat of that digital environment. Every broken brick, every rusted-over bridge, and every pile of rubble overgrown with weeds makes you feel like you're inhabiting the epilogue of a once-great civilization. It's a world full of ornate symbology and bronze-age-meets-magical-realism technology that's all the stronger for never being even partially explained. You'll feel like you're trespassing on the ghosts of master builders, who placed every last stone with a sense of purpose you'll never fully understand but love examining anyway. Much like Ueda's Ico and Shadow of the Colossus before it, The Last Guardian also benefits from a painterly use of light, which pokes through holes in the walls to reflect through cavernous halls and oversaturated outdoor scenes with a soft, otherworldly glow. Played on an HDR television on the PlayStation Pro, every scene has a vibrancy and range of visual expressiveness that's hard to equal in modern gaming (Things look pretty good on a standard 1080p television, too). Seeing what new visual splendor lies around the next corner quickly becomes the main impetus to struggle your way through the game's puzzles. Read 22 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Edited and produced by Jennifer Hahn. (video link) After years of development kits and prototype demos, Oculus finally launched the first consumer version of its Rift VR headset in March. But even as a real product that people could purchase, the first consumer version of the Rift was incomplete when it launched. That's because, unlike competing high-end VR headsets like the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, the Oculus Rift didn't have an integrated method to track your hands in virtual space. To be sure, you can do plenty of fun things in virtual reality with the kind of standard, handheld, button-based controller that's been guiding games on 2D screens for decades. But when you're confronted with a stereoscopic 3D world that entirely surrounds you, as happens in the Rift headset, your first instinct is to reach out and touch the things in that world. As we noted with disappointment in our initial review of the Rift, without hand-tracking controllers, "this brave new display technology is a strictly 'look, don't touch” affair.'" Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Virgin Galactic It has been a long road back from a fatal 2014 accident for Virgin Galactic, the splashy spaceship company founded by Sir Richard Branson to bring the masses into space. After its VSS Enterprise crashed into the Mojave Desert during a test flight, killing vehicle co-pilot Michael Alsbury, the company has had to redesign some key safety systems and rebuild its spacecraft. It revealed the VSS Unity in February. Since then Virgin Galactic has completed a series of ground tests and mating to the "mothership" aircraft, Eve. Following captive carry tests in September, the company performed its first glide test on Saturday, when VSS Unity was released at an altitude of about 15km. The spacecraft reached a velocity of mach 0.6 during its 10-minute descent back to the ground in California. It then made a safe landing at test facilities in Mojave. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Sony revealed a teaser trailer for The Last of Us 2 at PSX 2016. The Last of Us, one of the finest story-driven games of a generation, is getting a sequel. Revealed during Sony's PlayStation Experience event in Anaheim, California, The Last of Us: Part 2 is set five years after the events of The Last of Us, and stars an angry 19-year-old Ellie. Joel, the lead from the first game, makes a return too. Few other details were revealed—the trailer, which shows Ellie playing a guitar surrounded by zombie bodies, was intended for E3 2017—but developer Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann revealed that voice actors Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson will be reprising their roles as Joel and Ellie. In a panel session at PSX, Druckmann also hinted at the broader theme of the sequel, saying: "In the first game, the theme was the love between these two characters... this story's the counter of that. It's about hate." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge There are worse places to be stuck in a car than on the sun-cooked roads of Lucis. "Picturesque" doesn’t cover the symbiotic qualities of these mountains, great lakes, and patchwork fields. Small wonder that one member of your entourage, comprised of Noctis, the heir to Lucis' throne, and his three friends and bodyguards, will routinely request you stop the car so he can take a photograph. It's the eve of the prince's wedding and, rather than slosh drunkenly around some coastal town, he and his buddies have taken to the open road in their preposterously sleek and muscular car, the Regalia. It’s a curious choice of vehicle for a series defined by its fable-like airships and fantastical giant chicken mounts, but in time it makes sense. This is a contemporary-set Final Fantasy, complete with sat-navs, mobile phones and motels. What better way to conjure the sojourner spirit of the series in the modern day than via the conceit of a road trip? Not that you have much freedom to drive anywhere you please. The Regalia must stick to the roads in Final Fantasy XV—the latest in a very long line of role-playing games that stretches back to the Nintendo NES—and while it's possible to take the wheel yourself, the simplistic controls mean that you're more likely to hand over driver duties to Ignis, the most mature member of the group, and sit back to enjoy the views instead. The open road If the setting is plainly exquisite then the company is more of an acquired taste. There's sensible Ignis, who cooks meals for the group each time you set up camp for the night, and whose bother and worry soon starts to grate. There’s hothead Gladio, whose tantrums can weary (even if, at times, they provide him with an advantage in battle). And there’s Prompto, who yelps and tugs like an excitable puppy. As the four bond not only via freelance monster-battling missions, picked up, rather confusingly, from the owners of the various cafes dotted around Lucis, but also in their often affecting moments of vulnerability (quiet moments of male bonding snatched on a motel roof, and so on) a sense of pleasing and enriching camaraderie develops. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Could this be the home for BUDD-e? (credit: Volkswagen) On Monday, Volkswagen Group used the TechCrunch Disrupt meeting in London to announce a new company, Moia. It joins the group's 12 automotive brands but isn't necessarily going to make cars; VW says that Moia is a response to the future of transportation and that buzzword du jour, "mobility." Even though not everyone will still own a car in future, MOIA can help make everyone a customer of our company in some way or another,” Matthias Müller, CEO of VW Group, said. At first that means ride-sharing, VW having already invested $300 million in a ridesharing platform called Gett (used by London's black taxis, among others). But eventually the plan is for Moia-owned vehicles—electric and autonomous, we assume—to be the ones summoned via app. Autocar speculates that this could be the eventual use for VW's BUDD-e concept car, which would be co-branded with Moia. This looks like a smart move for VW Group, switching the topic as it does from the ongoing scandal of cheating emissions tests. Most of its rivals have already thrown down a mobility flag; GM and Maven, Daimler-Benz and Car2Go, BMW and ReachNow, and that's before we see autonomous car services from Ford and Tesla. Now VW can try and do the same with a name that's not covered in a layer of soot and particulates. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Open Grid Scheduler / flickr) Home-rental startup Airbnb has ended a legal battle with New York City, its largest market. Airbnb sued New York City and the state of New York in October, just hours after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill authorizing fines of up to $7,500 against those who violate the city's short-term rental laws. The company dropped the lawsuit against the state but continued to spar with the city, until the two sides reached an agreement on Friday. New York City officials have made clear to the company that the fines will be levied against individual hosts who break the rules, not against Airbnb itself. Airbnb has also agreed to help enforce a "one host, one home" policy in New York that would limit hosts to only renting out one home. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The fire at the 1300 block of 31st Ave., Oakland, California as seen late Friday evening and into the early hours of Saturday. (credit: @OaklandFireLive) Police and firefighters in Oakland, California are using surveillance tools like drones and DNA preservation, usually reserved for criminal investigations, to ascertain damage and identify victims from a deadly fire that broke out Friday night. The blaze engulfed a local warehouse, dubbed "Ghost Ship," which had been unofficially been converted to a music venue. The structure fire is believed to be among the worst in the country in recent years. At a 3pm press conference on Sunday, Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said there had been 33 official deaths recorded, and he estimated that "35 to 40 percent" of the building has been searched, and was ongoing. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Andrew Cunningham) Conflicting rumors of Apple's connected car plans have been swirling for some time. But a new letter written by Apple's director of product integrity Steve Kenner to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sheds some light into the company's plans. In the letter, Kenner writes that Apple is "excited" about the potential of automated transportation, and that the company is "investing heavily" into machine learning that could support such systems. "Apple uses machine learning to make its products and services smarter, more intuitive, and more personal," Kenner states in the letter. "The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation." Apple states that companies making self-driving vehicles and connected cars should follow "rigorous safety principles," however those rules shouldn't prevent companies from making "consequential progress." Also, the letter emphasizes the necessity of sharing "crash and near-misses" data to improve this technology, but that shouldn't compromise user privacy. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Yooka (the lizard) and Laylee (the bat) run around their game's opening level, Tribalstack Tropics. (credit: Playtonic Games) ANAHEIM, California—Upcoming video game Yooka-Laylee is set to bring the 3D platformer genre back in a big way next year, but can it live up to high expectations? The game’s team of ex-Rare developers charmed fans into coughing up £2.1 million of crowdfunded money last year, mostly on the promise of reviving the glory of Banjo-Kazooie. Are we anywhere near a true “Banjo-Threeie” here? That’s a tough question to answer after only a 20-minute demo, which I got to test at this weekend's PlayStation Experience event. For now, my dive into the game’s opening level has revealed a mix of humor, charm, rough production values, and darned good gameplay. Laylee, ease my worried mind Gliding over the game’s opening level is honestly as fun as this (admittedly sweetened) screenshot looks. Yooka-Laylee’s opening world, called Tribalstack Tropics, plays like a heaping helping of N64 platformer comfort-food—with the added juice of modern 3D hardware, of course. After I hopped, ran, and spun over a variety of familiar platforming challenges, I reached the sunny, green level’s mountain peak, and then I was told to jump all the way down. And jump I did—while holding the game’s hover-jump button to glide long and fall far. The game, running on a PlayStation 4, kept draw distances high during this whole sequence, and I was delighted by the sense of scale. (Soon after, I found out I could run into a warping door to get back to the top and hop all over again. Whee!) Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: The National Severe Storms Laboratory) A tornado may cause localized destruction, but the most severe problems come when a storm system spawns multiple tornadoes. This creates what's called a tornado outbreak, which spreads destruction across a wider area. Now, a new study suggests that the most violent tornado outbreaks are on the rise. But the researchers behind the study see no indication that the rise in tornado outbreaks is connect with our warming climate. It would make sense for a warming climate to influence tornado activity. After all, higher temperatures mean more energy in the atmosphere, potentially powering the storms. But past studies have produced mixed results when it comes to tornado activity. There's not a significant trend in the number of tornadoes or the frequency of outbreaks (defined as six or more tornadoes that occur in rapid succession). At the same time, tornadoes are occurring in more of the year, and the number of tornadoes in outbreaks has become increasingly variable. A team of researchers from Columbia University (Michael Tippett, Chiarra Lepore, and Joel Cohen) decided to look at this last figure more carefully. They collected data on the number of storms in outbreaks in the period between 1965 and 2015. While there was no trend in the number of outbreaks, the number of tornadoes per outbreak has gone up across that time period. Not only was the mean number of tornadoes per outbreak going up, but the more extreme outbreaks—the ones with the most storms—were increasing the fastest. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / A red deer in Norway (credit: flickr user: Jörg Hempel) Hunting animals, like deer, is often important to keeping their population at a reasonable size. In areas where natural predators are few or nonexistent, the only way to control populations of certain species is through human hunting. Human hunters behave differently from natural predators though. For instance, natural predators aren’t interested in trophy hunting, so they don’t target animals that would look good on their walls. Natural predators also aren’t reluctant to kill the young, whereas human hunters tend to avoid this. And human hunters may make other decisions about what to kill based on factors we don't really understand. To understand how these factors might influence prey populations, a group of researchers in Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands published a paper that tries to predict hunters’ behavior. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Video shot/edited by Jennifer Hahn. (video link) This year, more heart rate monitors have made their way into fitness trackers than ever before. All the major companies—Fitbit, Garmin, and Polar, among many others—have made heart rate monitoring more accessible by putting it into devices that cost less than $200 (many of them less than $150). Most of these devices are wristband wearables—but as 2016 ends and 2017 approaches, audio giants are getting into the mix. Workout headphones and earbuds have been around for a while, but now big names including Bose and JBL are making fitness earbuds that also track heart rate. Why the ears? You have the right to be skeptical about pulse-sensing earbuds. Before we get into why earbud-based monitors are becoming more prevalent, let's take a look at your current options. Most of the heart rate monitors widely available now are in chest straps or wrist-based wearables. The former is considered to be more accurate most of the time since straps are secured to the torso and close to your heart. Read 45 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite: Gameplay reveal trailer ANAHEIM, Calilfornia—After a week of teases and leaks, Capcom confirmed on Saturday that its long-running fighting series, Marvel Vs. Capcom, would receive a sequel in 2017. The announcement came during the kickoff panel at this weekend's PlayStation Experience expo, but the cooler stuff came later at the evening's Street Fighter V world finals tournament. The crossover sequel, dubbed Marvel Vs. Capcom Infinite, received its world premiere gameplay trailer on Saturday night, and it was introduced by Street Fighter V director Yoshinori Ono. "After you watch this, you might not be able to go to sleep tonight," Ono told the crowd. Captain Marvel? More like Captain Marvelous. The 1:30 trailer might not have been insomnia-inducing, but it was definitely far from a lullaby. The game now only lets players create teams of two, as opposed to the prior games' three-on-three fights, and the trailer showed Capcom favorites Mega Man and Ryu squaring off against Marvel superheroes Iron Man and Captain Marvel. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Kristin Sloan) On Thursday, 12 Instacart “shoppers” across 11 states filed a proposed federal class-action lawsuit against the San Francisco startup, alleging a breach of state and federal labor laws. The Instacart lawsuit is one of several currently targeting so-called “sharing economy” startups, and they all get at the same question: can workers be accurately classified as independent contractors, or should they properly be designated as employees? In Instacart’s case, customers order groceries online, but those groceries are then picked up and delivered by the company’s shoppers. So, should those shoppers be treated as employees? Classifying such workers as employees rather than contractors would entitle them to a number of benefits under federal law. This includes unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, the right to unionize, and, most importantly, the right to seek reimbursement for mileage and tips. This reclassification would also incur new and significant costs for Instacart and other affected companies, including Uber and Lyft. An on-demand cleaning service, Homejoy, shut down last year just months after it was hit with a similar labor lawsuit. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / My face is made of internet. (credit: Fiona Staples) Sometimes I get into one of those conversations about the Internet where the only way I can reply is to quote from The IT Crowd: "Are you from the past?" I say that every time someone asserts that the online world is somehow separate from real life. You'd be surprised how much this comes up, even after all these years of people's digital shenanigans leading to everything from espionage and murder to international video fame and fancy book deals. But now that the U.S. has a president-elect who communicates with the American people almost exclusively via Twitter and YouTube, it's really time to stop kidding ourselves. Before the election, many of us (including me) would have shrugged off the fake news stories piling up in the margins of our Facebook feeds. Nobody takes that stuff seriously, right? The election of Donald Trump and several recent tweets from the House Science Committee are two strong pieces of evidence that, yes, people do. In reality, politics have straddled the digital and meatspace for decades. Though government officials may have just learned about "the cyber," people working in computer security have been dealing with criminal and whimsical incursions into their systems since the late 20th century. It was 1990 when the infamous Operation Sundevil swept up innocents in a massive Secret Service dragnet operation to stop carders. The Stuxnet worm, which affected physical operations of centrifuges at a uranium enrichment plant in Iran, is only the most obvious example of how digital ops can have consequences away from the keyboard. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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NASA The International Space Station fills several roles for NASA—providing a toehold in outer space for human activity, testing closed-loop technologies for long-duration spaceflight, and developing international partnerships. But perhaps the station's biggest selling point is science. It was, after all, designated a national laboratory in 2005. And what does a lab need? Scientists. Yet despite the vastly increased diversity of the astronaut corps since the early, macho days of the Mercury 7, many astronauts today are still fighter pilots, engineers, and surgeons. Relatively few are bonafide research scientists. But Kate Rubins is, and she spent 115 days on the space station this summer and fall. Before becoming an astronaut, Rubins trained in molecular biology and led a laboratory of more than a dozen researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She and her team specialized in viruses such as Ebola and Marburg, and their field work took them to Central and Western Africa. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games. Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com. The frenzied holiday gift-shopping season is now in full swing, and board gamers across the globe are dusting off their Kallax shelves in preparation for the cardboard bounty that surely awaits them. It’s left to you, Friend of the Gamer, to make those dreams come true. Whether your giftee is a longtime gamer or a brand new convert, Ars Cardboard is here with a list of games to please players of every stripe. We've broken your friends and family into tidy little categories and provided a main pick and some alternatives for each demographic. Our main picks focus on titles released in the last year or two, but we dug into some older titles for our expanded picks. To boot, most games on this list are friendly to tabletop newbies. Read 49 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Jurors in a Charleston, South Carolina, courtroom said Friday they were deadlocked on whether to convict a white South Carolina police officer on trial for shooting an African-American man in the back. The video taken last year by a passerby was viewed online millions of times. Michael Slager (credit: YouTube) Defense attorneys for Michael Slager, a 35-year-old North Charleston officer, called for a mistrial in the murder case, while the judge has ordered the 12-member panel to continue deliberating. All the while, a single juror wrote a note to the presiding judge that he or should could not, "in good conscience, approve a guilty verdict." "You have a duty to make every reasonable effort to reach a unanimous verdict," Judge Clifton Newman told panelists, who began hearing the case a month ago. The jury began deliberating Wednesday. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Tom Price, R-Ga., speaks at a signing ceremony for the "Restoring Americans Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015" at the US Capitol in Washington in 2016. Rep. Price, who is also a physician, is the sponsor of the legislation, which is designed to eliminate key parts of President Barack Obama's health care law and stop taxpayer funds from going to Planned Parenthood. (credit: Getty | Congressional Quarterly ) President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of six-term Congress member Tom Price (R-Ga.) for secretary of health and human services has inflamed the medical community bigly this week, causing widespread and bitter infighting. Price is not a particularly shocking pick by Trump—the Congressman is one of the fiercest Obamacare critics, and Trump vowed during his campaign to quickly repeal and replace the mammoth healthcare law. Beyond that, Price, a former orthopedic surgeon, has maintained strong conservative positions on healthcare policy. He opposes abortion rights and regulations on tobacco, for instance. But he also belongs to a small, fringe, ultra-conservative and conspiracy-laden group called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). Among other things, this group decries evidence-based medicine, Medicare, and Medicaid, plus it has peddled discredited, dangerous notions including that vaccines cause autism. In light of some or all of those facts, many in the medical community were left aghast and fuming by support of Price’s nomination from top medical associations, namely the powerful American Medical Association (AMA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). In the past few days, thousands of doctors have signed letters and petitions, condemned the groups’ support, and publicly quit the AMA. The hashtag #NotMyAMA has gathered steam on Twitter. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: ellenm1) For almost three months, Internet-of-things botnets built by software called Mirai have been a driving force behind a new breed of attacks so powerful they threaten the Internet as we know it. Now, a new botnet is emerging that could soon magnify or even rival that threat. The as-yet unnamed botnet was first detected on November 23, the day before the US Thanksgiving holiday. For exactly 8.5 hours, it delivered a non-stop stream of junk traffic at undisclosed targets, according to this post published Friday by content delivery network CloudFlare. Every day for the next six days at roughly the same time, the same network pumped out an almost identical barrage, which is aimed at a small number of targets mostly on the US west coast. More recently, the attacks have run for 24 hours at a time. While the new distributed denial-of-service attacks aren't as powerful as some of the record-setting ones that Mirai participated in, they remain plenty big, especially for an upstart botnet. Peak volumes have reached 400 gigabits per second and 200 million packets per second. The attacks zero in on level 3 and level 4 of a target's network layer and are aimed at exhausting transmission control protocol resources. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / The iPad Air 2 and Mini 4. (credit: Andrew Cunningham) Apple's Activation Lock feature, introduced in iOS 7 in 2013, deters thieves by associating your iPhone and iPad with your Apple ID. Even if a thief steals your device, puts it into Recovery Mode, and completely resets it, the phone or tablet won't work without the original user's Apple ID and password. This makes stolen iDevices less valuable since they become more difficult to resell, and it has significantly reduced iPhone theft in major cities. The feature has been difficult to crack, but a new exploit disclosed by Vulnerability Lab security analyst Benjamin Kunz Mejri uses a buffer overflow exploit and some iPad-specific bugs to bypass Activation Lock in iOS 10.1.1. When you're setting up a freshly-reset iPad with Activation Lock enabled, the first step is to hit "Choose Another Network" when you're asked to connect to Wi-Fi. Select a security type, and then input a very, very long string of characters into both the network name and network password fields (copying and pasting your increasingly long strings of characters can speed this up a bit). These fields were not intended to process overlong strings of characters, and the iPad will gradually slow down and then freeze as the strings become longer. During one of these freezes, rotate the tablet, close its Smart Cover for a moment, and then re-open the cover. The screen will glitch out for a moment before displaying the Home screen for a split second, at which point a well-timed press of the Home button can apparently bypass Activation Lock entirely (but it will have to be extremely well-timed, since the first-time setup screen will pop back up after a second). Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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