posted 6 days ago on ars technica
Jannis Hermanns Long story short: I built a Wi-Fi enabled LEGO Macintosh Classic running Docker on a Raspberry Pi Zero with an e‑paper display. Docker deployments via resin.io. Read on for more details of how I built it. But why? While my son and I were playing with LEGO, after building a 1987 GMC Vandura and an off-road Segway I suddenly had the urge to build one of the first computers I remember using: Read 30 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 6 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Is it "fresh malware"? Or is it something else repackaged? (credit: from an image by Sarah Shuda) Last November, a systems engineer at a large company was evaluating security software products when he discovered something suspicious. One of the vendors had provided a set of malware samples to test—48 files in an archive stored in the vendor's Box cloud storage account. The vendor providing those samples was Cylance, the information security company behind Protect, a "next generation" endpoint protection system built on machine learning. In testing, Protect identified all 48 of the samples as malicious, while competing products flagged most but not all of them. Curious, the engineer took a closer look at the files in question—and found that seven weren't malware at all. That led the engineer to believe Cylance was using the test to close the sale by providing files that other products wouldn't detect—that is, bogus malware only Protect would catch. Read 62 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: USPTO) This February, Garmin International got sued (PDF) by inventor Leigh Rothschild and his patent-holding company, Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations LLC (RCDI). RCDI had already sued 68 other companies. A few weeks later, Rothschild's lawyer got in touch. He wasn't interested in discussing the technology behind his client's two patents, which describe making customized mixed beverages. Instead, he asked Garmin to get on board with Rothschild's "early settlement program," for a fast payout of $75,000. Garmin didn't pay up. Instead, the company's outside counsel Rachael Lamkin sent a letter to Rothschild's lawyer, explaining that his patents on a "system and method for creating a personalized consumer product" weren't valid, and ran afoul of Section 101 of the US Patent laws. That's the section that bars patents that are overly abstract, including "do it on a computer" type patents. "Whether or not systems and methods for generating customized products are patent-eligible is a well-trodden question, repeatedly decided in the negative," Lamkin informed him, citing several earlier legal cases. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Des Willie/BBC) This is a post-UK broadcast review of Doctor Who: The Pilot. River Song always warned the Doctor against spoilers, so be sure to watch the episode first. Episodes of Doctor Who air on Saturdays at 7:20pm UK time on BBC One, and 9pm EDT on BBC America. This is not a Dalek episode. It's a "bigger on the inside" episode. But it also adopts an obvious lesbian psycho trope—which is a pity: outgoing showrunner Steven Moffat makes the Doctor’s new companion gay and her first encounter with a monster happens to be an unhinged, shape shifting stalker who repeats everything Bill Potts says while dripping water onto the floor. Poor house guest, certainly. And probably not someone you would want to bring home to your family. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Andrew Cunningham Last November, Nintendo surprised everyone by going back to its roots and releasing the NES Classic. The delightful emulator/nostalgia-fest sparked unanticipated demand, including near-instant supply issues and 200-percent-plus markups in secondary markets. So in December of 2016, we decided to build our own version instead. Since Nintendo bizarrely announced that it won't be making any more of the hard-to-find mini consoles this week, we're re-running this piece to help those of you with a DIY streak once again build your own. Hardware recommendations have been updated to reflect current availability and pricing for April 2017. Against my better judgment, I’ve tried a couple of times to snag one of those adorable little $60 mini NES Classic Editions—once when Amazon put some of its limited stock online and crashed its own site, and once when Walmart was shipping out small quantities every day a couple of weeks ago. In both cases, I failed. But the dumb itch of nostalgia can’t always be scratched by logical thoughts like “do you really need to pay money for Super Mario Bros. 3 again,” and “Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest is probably the weakest of the three NES Castlevania games.” Since it’s not entirely clear if or when those little mini NESes will become readily available, I decided to funnel that small wad of expendable cash and the desire for some nostalgia-fueled gaming into a DIY project. Read 40 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Abdullah Almashwali and his co-defendant used a self-serve kiosk like this one to mail illegal drugs. (credit: Aranami) Just days before he was set to go to trial in Fresno, California, a Brooklyn man agreed to the government's assertion that he sold heroin and cocaine on AlphaBay. That site is one of the largest Dark Web marketplaces currently operating since Silk Road was seized and shut down in 2013. On Friday morning, lawyers representing Abdullah Almashwali appeared before US District Judge Dale A. Drozd and filed a guilty plea to three counts of drug charges, likely in exchange for a lighter sentence. Almashwali was charged in August 2016 along with a co-conspirator, Chaudhry Ahmad Farooq. Farooq pled guilty in January 2017 and has yet to be sentenced. According to an affidavit filed by a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the two men—selling under the names "DarkApollo" and "Area51"—made key mistakes online that ultimately betrayed them. Those monikers advertised that they were directly importing heroin from Afghanistan. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 7 days ago on ars technica
(credit: Steve Harwood) Researchers from Colorado State University have been working with Google Street View to map pervasive natural-gas leaks. These leaks come from pipes that can be buried three-to-four feet below city streets. Many of the millions of miles of piping that deliver natural gas locally to urban and suburban homes are decades old—in some cases piping can be more than a century old. Older pipes can be made of cast-iron or bare steel, and they are often corroded or broken in places. But because they’re buried and because natural gas is invisible, it’s hard to tell when a pipe is leaking underneath a sidewalk. Sometimes, digging up and replacing a pipe isn’t worthwhile for the utility that owns it if the leaks isn’t an immediate risk to life and limb. Besides the occasional explosion, there’s not much of a health risk associated with small natural-gas leaks. But natural gas is mostly comprised of methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas. Although carbon dioxide sticks around in the atmosphere longer than methane does, it’s much more potent at warming the Earth in the short term than carbon dioxide. That should make fixing the aging, leaking pipes under our cities a municipal priority. Although utilities will sometimes send employees out to neighborhoods to measure gas leaks from their pipes, they’re not always keen to share that data with citizens or even researchers. Even if utility workers are willing to share, making a complete census of all the leaks can be challenging. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: NSA) Contrary to what Ars and the rest of the world reported Friday, none of the published exploits stolen from the National Security Agency work against currently supported Microsoft products. This is according to a Microsoft blog post published late Friday night. That's because the critical vulnerabilities for four exploits previously believed to be zerodays were patched in March, exactly one month before a group called Shadow Brokers published Friday's latest installment of weapons-grade attacks. Those updates—which Microsoft indexes as MS17-010, CVE-2017-0146, and CVE-2017-—make no mention of the person or group who reported the vulnerabilities to Microsoft. The lack of credit isn't unprecedented, but it's uncommon, and it's generating speculation that the reporters were tied to the NSA. In a vaguely worded statement issued Friday, Microsoft seemed to say it had had no contact with NSA officials concerning any of the exploits contained in Friday's leak. Microsoft provided the following table showing when various exploits were patched: Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / An artist's rendering of what a 24-hour solar thermal plant at Tamarugal plant could look like. (credit: SolarReserve) The idea of sustainability is pretty simple: Manage our resources such that they can continue to support us indefinitely. And, for an individual resource, sustainability is simple. Avoiding something like depleting our groundwater means that future generations have access to as much water as we do and don't face the consequences of sinking soil. But sustainability gets complicated when you start considering multiple, competing uses. Cutting back on water usage may influence things like agriculture, energy production, and more, making them less sustainable. Just how complicated does all of this get? Lei Gao and Brett Bryan of Australia's CSIRO research organization decided to use their home country as a test of sustainability goals, and the results are disheartening. While moving any aspect of land use into the "sustainable" column is possible, the more aspects you try to push into that column, the harder it gets. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Ndemic) Welcome to Ars Cardboard, our weekend look at tabletop games! Check out our complete board gaming coverage at cardboard.arstechnica.com—and let us know what you think. I’ve invested more hours in the board game Pandemic than I care to admit. First released in 2007, it casts players as a team of medics cooperating to prevent a disease-induced apocalypse; over the years, it’s become one of the board game industry’s best-sellers. But while Pandemic’s struggle against sickness provided some great game nights, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t perversely intrigued by the biological armageddon the game threatens—a possibility explored in films like Contagion and 28 Days Later. Sometimes Pandemic is most satisfying when the situation is most dire. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 8 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Michael Holley) The flexi disc has, for a physically flimsy format, an incredibly diverse background, and its story incorporates everyone from the Beatles, David Bowie, and ABBA, to Alice Cooper and heavy metal. In terms of retail it cropped up with National Geographic, in a million-dollar McDonalds campaign, and on the covers of numerous teenybopper magazines. It ended up pressed into illegal black-market X-rays in the Soviet Union, and even helped the noted liar Richard "Tricky Dicky" Nixon become US president in 1968 A Leonard Cohen flexi-disc. You can just about see the darker audio track around the outside edge. (credit: Peter Torbijn) Flexi discs (not "flexidiscs") sold in their tens of millions during the 60s, 70s, 80s, and the early 1990s—before virtually disappearing from the face of the earth for a decade and a half. But, as befits a product based on a continuous spiral scratch, that was not quite the end... Other "musical postcards"—crude grooves pressed into card—had been around and selling fitfully since way back in 1950. And some vinyl flexi discs did appear in Britain in the latter half of the 1950s, although most of these were of very poor quality, technically speaking. The refined flexi disc was developed, patented, and introduced by the American company Eva-Tone Incorporated a few years later, in 1962, and was at first called "the Eva-tone Soundsheet." This new kid on the block had several advantages over its "parents": the singing postcard and the original spiral-stylus-groove product we know as the vinyl record. Read 25 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Universal About halfway through Fate of the Furious, the eighth flick in the ever-changing gearhead ninja series that started with The Fast and the Furious, I realized that my world had changed. This franchise had leapfrogged over James Bond in my long list of badass, high-tech, silly action flicks that I love to watch. After audiences take in the glorious insanity of this movie, I don't think I'll be the only one who feels this way. If you think of all eight movies in the Furious franchise as having a plot arc, the action has been consistently bending toward "secret agent techno-ninja" for quite some time. Even in the first movie, there's an uneasy truce between law enforcement and Dom's (Vin Diesel) band of sideshow outlaws. Furious has a Bond-like balance between beautifully choreographed hand-to-hand combat sequences and tricked-out gadget porn. For a long time, however, the difference between a Bond movie and a Furious one was whose side we were on. Bond is a man of the Crown, fighting global threats. Dom and his team, meanwhile, are sometimes just fighting to have faster vehicles than the Asian gangsters up the block. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Lumia 950 (credit: Peter Bright) Microsoft has just released a couple of new Windows Insider builds for people on the fast ring, one for PC and one for mobile. The builds are surprisingly divergent. For PC, the build is numbered 16176; it's another Redstone 3 build, though as with the first Redstone 3 build, it doesn't change a whole lot. It adds access to serial ports from the Windows Subsystem for Linux, which will help with remote device debugging. The build also fixes some minor bugs while introducing a new, less minor bug. Specifically, if you use a Centennial application built using the Desktop Bridge—Microsoft's semi-virtualized technology for putting existing Win32 applications in the Windows Store—your system will crash. This will cause a Green Screen of Death—green, because a few builds back, Microsoft changed the screen color for Insider system crashes. At a glance, then, you can see the difference between a crashing machine on the stable Windows branch (as these remain blue) and a crashing machine on the developer branch. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla) A Republican lawmaker who voted to eliminate Internet privacy rules said, "Nobody's got to use the Internet" when asked why ISPs should be able to use and share their customers' Web browsing history for advertising purposes. US Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) was hosting a town hall meeting when a constituent asked about the decision to eliminate privacy rules. The person in the audience was disputing the Republican argument that ISPs shouldn't face stricter requirements than websites such as Facebook. "Facebook is not comparable to an ISP. I do not have to go on Facebook," the town hall meeting attendee said. But when it comes to Internet service providers, the person said, "I have one choice. I don't have to go on Google. My ISP provider is different than those providers." Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The Verily Study Watch, strategically photographed to not show how thick it is. (credit: Verily) Alphabet's Life Sciences division, Verily, is giving the world a peek at its health-focused smartwatch. The Google sister company introduced the "Verily Study Watch" on its blog today, calling it an "investigational device" that aims to "passively capture health data" for medical studies. Lots of wearables technically capture health data with simple heart-rate sensors, but Verily's watch aims to be a real medical device. The blog post says the device can track "relevant signals for studies spanning cardiovascular, movement disorders, and other areas." The Study Watch does this by using electrocardiography (ECG) and by measuring electrodermal activity and inertial movements. The ECG is the biggest addition to the watch over a normal smart watch device. According to a report from MIT Technology Review, which has been tracking the Verily watch's progress for some time, the watch uses a 2-point ECG. One contact point is the watch on the wrist, and the other point is formed when the user touches the metal bezel of the watch with their other hand. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Apple wants to get on those California roads. (credit: nrg_crisis (off and on)) On Friday, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) updated its website to reflect that Apple now has a permit to test self-driving cars on public roads. Apple has been hiring automotive experts—particularly those with experience in autonomous driving—for years. (In 2015, Tesla CEO Elon Musk even taunted the company saying, “If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple.”) But the company has long kept quiet about its aspirations. That began to change in December, when Apple wrote a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) saying that it was “investing heavily” in machine learning to support autonomous systems, especially in transportation. The update on the California DMV website confirms that, after years of speculation, Apple is serious about building self-driving car software. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
In 1970, Charles Spencer King saw something no one else saw. King designed a new truck-like Rover model that year, which he gave the name "Range Rover." No one could have predicted that he was foreshadowing the future so accurately. King strove to simultaneously improve both the comfort and off-road capability of the traditional Land Rover. He wanted what Range Rover likes to call a "wide breadth of capability" which makes it at home in the rough and muddy as well as on the city avenue. But King also wanted the Range Rover to have a dash of style. Despite being a mechanical engineer and not a designer, he personally sketched what would become the final, original Range Rover design, which only went through minor tweaks on the way to actual production. In the process, he gave birth to the luxury SUV. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Dimitri Otis) A Federal Communications Commission plan to eliminate price caps in much of the business broadband market uses a new test for determining whether customers benefit from competition. Even if a business that needs broadband has only one choice today, the FCC would consider the local market competitive if there's a second broadband provider within a half mile. The proposal from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will hurt small business customers of ISPs, according to a federal office that advocates on behalf of small businesses. But at least for now, the FCC plans to move ahead with a final vote at its meeting on April 20. You may be thinking, "There are no price caps for broadband in the US!" That's true for the home Internet service market, but the FCC imposes price regulation on certain types of business broadband. So-called Business Data Services (BDS) provided by traditional phone companies like AT&T and Verizon use dedicated links to deliver "secure, reliable, and low-delay transmission service for moving voice, data, and video traffic" at speeds of up to 45Mbps upstream and downstream, the FCC's deregulation proposal says. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / A computer screen displaying Eternalromance, one of the hacking tools dumped Friday by Shadow Brokers. (credit: Matthew Hickey) The Shadow Brokers—the mysterious person or group that over the past eight months has leaked a gigabyte worth of the National Security Agency's weaponized software exploits—just published its most significant release yet. Friday's dump contains potent exploits and hacking tools that target most versions of Microsoft Windows and evidence of sophisticated hacks on the SWIFT banking system of several banks across the world. Friday's release—which came as much of the computing world was planning a long weekend to observe the Easter holiday—contains close to 300 megabytes of materials the leakers said were stolen from the NSA. The contents included compiled binaries for exploits that targeted vulnerabilities in a long line of Windows operating systems, including Windows 8 and Windows 2012. It also included a framework dubbed Fuzzbunch, a tool that resembles the Metasploit hacking framework that loads the binaries into targeted networks. Independent security experts who reviewed the contents said it was without question the most damaging Shadow Brokers release to date. "It is by far the most powerful cache of exploits ever released," Matthew Hickey, a security expert and co-founder of Hacker House, told Ars. "It is very significant as it effectively puts cyber weapons in the hands of anyone who downloads it. A number of these attacks appear to be 0-day exploits which have no patch and work completely from a remote network perspective." Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Microsoft's inspiration, evidently. (credit: Jerry ) Citing "sources familiar with the matter," Windows Central is reporting that Microsoft could be bringing a tabbed interface to Windows 10 apps. There have long been calls for Explorer to support tabs so that multiple locations on the file system can be browsed without a proliferation of windows, but the report says that Microsoft may be going a step further, bringing tabs to just about every window. The feature is apparently called "Tabbed Shell;" it would allow any application with multiple windows to have those windows collapsed onto one another by creating a tab bar. Conversely, tabs can be torn off the tab bar to create separate windows, providing an appearance and experience that mirrors that of the Edge browser. With this, Microsoft could neatly meet the demand for tabs in Explorer and similar requests to have tabs for the command-line. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / This art for 2Dark also serves as a handy artist's conception of Denuvo trying to hold off crackers. In the endless back-and-forth war between DRM makers and crackers, it looked like Denuvo had established a temporary beachhead recently. A revamped version of the piracy protection (which the community is referring to as "v4") had started appearing in a handful of games in recent months, and v4 seemed more resistant to the kind of quick cracks that had plagued titles like Resident Evil 7 and Mass Effect Andromeda, which each ran older Denuvo versions. But the Denuvo beachhead has now been breached, as cracking collective CPY has released a DRM-free version of 2Dark, an Alone in the Dark spiritual successor that launched with v4 Denuvo protection about a month ago. The vagaries of Denuvo mean other games with similar protection (including Dead Rising 4, Nier: Automata, and the recently released Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition) will still need to be cracked individually. Still, the 2Dark crack proves that the newly revamped version of the DRM is just as breakable as the old version (which was itself considered unbreakable for quite a while). That also means Mass Effect: Andromeda, which had Denuvo v4 patched in alongside other improvements after launch, may soon see a cracked version that includes the game's post-launch updates. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / A picture taken in Vertou, western France, shows Facebook logos. (credit: LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images) With the first round of the French presidential election just nine days away, Facebook is tightening up its game with regards to false information being shared in users' news feeds. Last week, Facebook said it would start publishing notifications about its "10 tips to spot fake news" at the tops of users' feeds. The tips include pretty basic ideas like closely examining the URL, article date, and source, as well as encouragement to "check the evidence" and suggestions to compare the "news" to other articles. Here's the full list of tips. The idea was just to flag the tips for "a few days" in 14 countries, but today it looks like the war against fake news is far from over. With a major election upcoming, Facebook—which saw mounting criticism following the US election in November—is eager to let the world know it's on watch against false information. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
The first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi is amazing. I mean, did you really think they would make a crappy trailer? Disney just dropped the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi as part of this week's Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. (You can watch a livestream of the Last Jedi panel here.) Suffice it to say that it looks amazing and delivers pretty much everything you'd want in a teaser—just a peek with extremely low spoiler levels. First of all, our main characters are back. We catch a glimpse of Finn in some kind of medical pod, looking alive and well. Poe is in full hunky resistance fighter mode racing around with BB-8. Kylo is glowering out of the shadows like a Marilyn Manson fan circa 1995. And the Millennium Falcon is swooping around like the modded, overclocked machine that she is. There are snippets of battles and one shot of a fantastic-looking flight across the surface of a planet where giant red plumes arc out of the desert floor behind some ships. It looks very Mad Max: Thunder Road, and I mean that as a high compliment. Best of all, at least to this viewer, we see Luke doing what appear to be Yoda-esque "use the Force" exercises with Rey on the island where we left them at the end of The Force Awakens. Rey is learning to levitate little rocks and using her mind to feel the balance of light and dark in the Force. (Tearful moment as we glimpse the back of Leia's head when Rey mentions "the light.") There are also some ancient books and maps in Luke's monk cave, which is interesting—I don't recall seeing any Jedi books in paper form before, though we saw lots of augmented reality classrooms in previous films. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge California regulators are recommending that Uber pay a $1.13 million fine for not investigating rider complaints that drivers were working intoxicated. A division of the California Public Utilities Commission said Uber breached (PDF) so-called "zero-tolerance" guidelines demanding that transportation companies promptly investigate drunken-driving complaints consumers lodge with those companies. These types of companies generally are required to suspend suspect drivers when a complaint is lodged pending the outcome of an internal investigation. One-fourth—about 147,000 drivers—of Uber's US workforce operates in California. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...
posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Note: MST3K isn't really the kind of show that can be "spoiled," but this review references a handful of jokes from the first two episodes of the new show. You have been warned.  I am watching the first new episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 that I’ve seen since September of 1999. And 20 or 25 minutes in, I am cautiously optimistic. Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Read More...