posted 10 days ago on ars technica
Back in 2014, Hello Games' Sean Murray acknowledged in a Game Informer interview that official modding tools were practically a must for No Man's Sky. "I almost feel like we need to give them the [modding] tools; otherwise then they're just going to start making them, tearing apart your game," Murray said at the time. "That's what I have more of a fear of." Fast forward to today, and some PC No Man's Sky players (who can manage to get the game running) are indeed just tearing apart the game to make their own mods. Despite the current lack of official mod tools, players are extracting game files and tinkering with them to create unsupported mods just days after the game's PC release. This short video outlines the basic process used to create these unofficial mods. Interestingly enough, the PC version of the game seems to be built on top of a host of files in the PlayStation Archive format, though they've been renamed to the more generic PAK extension for Windows. Regardless, these files can be uncompressed using a PSARC decompiler tool, and then edited and recompiled to get a modified version of the game up and running. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The leak over the weekend of advanced hacking tools contains digital signatures that are almost identical to those in software used by the state-sponsored Equation Group, according to a just-published report from security firm Kaspersky Lab. "While we cannot surmise the attacker's identity or motivation nor where or how this pilfered trove came to be, we can state that several hundred tools from the leak share a strong connection with our previous findings from the Equation group," Kaspersky researchers wrote in a blog post published Tuesday afternoon. The finding is significant because it lends credibility to claims made by a mysterious group calling itself ShadowBrokers. When members of the previously unknown group claimed in a blog post that they hacked Equation Group and obtained never-before-seen exploits and implants it used, outsiders were understandably skeptical. The publication of state-sponsored hacking tools is an extremely rare if not unprecedented event that is sure to catch the attention of leaders all over the world. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: SpaceX) SpaceX appears to be betting big on carbon fiber composites, which could increase the capacity of its future rockets to get people and supplies into space—and eventually to the surface of Mars. According to a report in Nikkei Asian Review, SpaceX has signed an agreement with Toray Carbon Fibers estimated to be worth $2 billion to $3 billion. The total price and delivery dates have yet to be finalized. It is not immediately clear exactly when, and in which launch vehicles, these lightweight composites will be employed by SpaceX. But the company is not alone in its interest—NASA and other aerospace companies have been experimenting with the materials because of their potential to increase the amount of payload that can be carried by a rocket. They could also lower overall manufacturing cost. The scale of the deal seems telling, however. If the value of the deal as reported is correct, in the billions of dollars, it seems probable that the carbon fiber composites would be used in SpaceX's proposed Mars Colonial Transporter rocket. This is the very large (but still under development) rocket the company plans to use to transport humans to Mars. SpaceX is already far along in the production of its Falcon Heavy rocket, which is based on the Falcon 9 core stage. The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which SpaceX has successfully been landing this year, has tank walls and domes built from an aluminum lithium alloy. (Ars has reached out to SpaceX for comment on this story and will update accordingly). Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: NBCUniversal) Warning: This piece contains minor spoilers for the most recent episode of Mr. Robot (S2E6) Last week on Mr. Robot, the intrepid hackers of fsociety went back to command-line school. They didn't need the training, of course. In order to access an FBI system on location at E-Corp headquarters—which currently houses a temporary FBI division after last season's cyber-attacks—the hacker collective needed someone on the inside. Their only option was a relative n00b: Elliot Alderson's family-friend-turned-E-Corp-employee Angela Moss. The episode ends on a slight cliff-hanger. As Angela continues to execute instructions pumped into her headphones from fsociety, the show's new FBI character, Dom DiPierro, arrives at her side to request a quick interview. Until that point, this newly made hacker had successfully socially engineered her way into an FBI space, executed some code in a bathroom stall, and then dropped a femtocell at an official workstation. For a show that prides itself so much on accuracy in hacking, does having a novice best the FBI go one step too far? Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Intel) Intel will be opening up its newest chip factories to companies making ARM mobile processors, according to joint press releases from both Intel and ARM. Companies designing chips based on ARM's Artisan Physical IP will be able to manufacture them on Intel's upcoming 10nm FinFET process, giving those chip companies an option aside from the currently dominant Samsung and TSMC. It sounds like ARM licensees who use ARM's off-the-shelf technology will be able to use Intel's fabs to create chips but that licensees like Qualcomm who use a lot of their own custom CPUs and GPUs won't be able to. "The initial POP IP will be for two future advanced ARM Cortex-A processor cores designed for mobile computing applications in either ARM big.LITTLE™ or stand-alone configurations," according to ARM's press release. Intel's release says that LG will be using the process to "produce a world-class mobile platform based on Intel Custom Foundry's 10nm design platform." The Intel Custom Foundry business has slowly been expanding since Intel first offered 22nm capacity to Achronix back in 2010, though its list of customers is still fairly small. Initially, Intel mostly offered capacity to chip companies that didn't compete with Intel in any significant markets, and in at least one case, Intel has actually purchased a company it was doing business with. But Intel dramatically scaled back its smartphone SoC plans a few months ago after years of poor sales and few design wins, so letting ARM SoC makers use Intel's factories could now be Intel's best option for making money in the mobile SoC business. The company is also continuing to work on its modems, one of which is rumored to be included in the next-generation iPhones. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: AK Rockefeller) Two former employees of the National Security Agency—including exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden—are speculating that Monday's leak of what are now confirmed to be advanced hacking tools belonging to the US government is connected to the separate high-profile hacks and subsequent leaks of two Democratic groups. Private security firms brought in to investigate the breach of the Democratic National Committee and a separate hack of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have said that the software left behind implicates hackers tied to the Russian government. US intelligence officials have privately said they, too, have high confidence of Russian government involvement. In the weeks following the reports, WikiLeaks and an unknown person using the moniker Guccifer 2.0 have published a steady stream of documents. One batch released just ahead of last month's Democratic National Convention contained embarrassing private conversations that led to the resignation of DNC Chair Debra Wasserman Schultz. A more recent installment included a spreadsheet detailing the cell phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and other personal information of every Democratic member of the House of Representatives. The Obama administration has signaled that it may impose new economic sanctions on Russia in response to what critics claim is Russian attempts to disrupt or influence the US presidential election. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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On Tuesday, the Ford Motor Company became the latest car maker committed to putting a fully autonomous car into production in the next five years. "The world is changing, and it's changing very quickly," Ford CEO Mark Fields said. The company intends to build a high-volume car capable of SAE's level 4 autonomy, but the target customer is not regular consumers—it's ride-sharing services. "Starting in 2021, if you want to get around the city without the hassle of driving or parking, Ford's new fully autonomous vehicle will be there for you," Fields said. The announcement took place in Palo Alto, outside Ford's Silicon Valley Research and Innovation Center. As part of Ford's future plans, that research center will double in size over the next 16 months. Although Fields cited the safety implications of autonomous cars—90 percent of traffic crashes are attributable to human error, after all—he was also enthusiastic about the possibility of making transportation more accessible to the elderly, disabled, and people too young (or too disinterested) to drive themselves. Ford has designs on being more than an automaker, too; the company's Smart Mobility pilot programs have been showing the way here. "We know there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all transportation solution," Fields said, adding that ride-sharing would make more efficient use of vehicles, with less time wasted for people and less pollution. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Getty Images | Yuri_Arcurs) The cable industry's majority share of US broadband subscribers rose again last quarter, as Comcast and Charter gained nearly 500,000 subscribers, combined, while phone companies AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, and Frontier all lost Internet customers. The 14 largest ISPs, accounting for 95 percent of the US market, gained 192,510 Internet customers in Q2 2016, bringing the total to 91.9 million, Leichtman Research Group reported today. Cable companies accounted for all of the gains, adding 553,293 subscribers for a new total of 57 million. The phone companies lost 360,783 subscribers, bringing them down to 34.9 million. Phone companies' losses more than doubled since Q2 2015, when they lost about 150,000 subscribers. "Over the past year, cable companies have added about 3.5 million broadband subscribers, while telcos have had net losses of about 500,000 broadband subscribers," the group's president, Bruce Leichtman, said in the press release. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Microsoft's Windows Holographic promo video. In June, Microsoft announced its plans to build a single platform suitable for virtual reality, augmented reality, and any other system that mixes computer-generated and real-world content. At IDF in San Francisco today, Microsoft's Terry Myerson said that the Windows Holographic experience, including the shell used on the HoloLens hardware, will be made available as an update to the standard Windows 10 desktop operating system some time next year. Currently, the HoloLens runs a specialized variant of Windows. Desktop Windows offers many of the same APIs as the HoloLens, but the 3D user interface that mixes existing 2D apps with new 3D ones is only available on the augmented reality headset. Next year's update will make it available to all, opening it up not just to Microsoft's standalone device but also to hardware such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive that provide tethered virtual reality. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Intel) The still-young virtual reality headset wars have a new competitor, though it's being sold as more of a "mixed reality" solution than purely VR. At the Intel Developer Forum today, the company announced Project Alloy, an untethered headset that packs everything into a single head-mounted display without the need for a PC or a mobile phone. In addition to the battery, display, and computing resources needed to run the headset, Project Alloy will also include Intel's Real Sense motion tracking system, which will use cameras and sensors to map the world around you and track your hands without the need for gloves or handheld controllers. The system can also see real-world objects and integrate them into the virtual world, as shown in a demo where the user opened a real door and saw his boss' face appear in the virtual world (hence the "mixed reality" moniker Intel stressed in its presentation). Alloy will be integrated with Microsoft's Windows Holographic platform, which will itself be available on all Windows 10 PCs next year. Intel also said it plans to release the Alloy hardware specs under an open source license at some point, letting others essentially use it as a reference design for their own hardware. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The 2016 Toyota Highlander Hybrid. $51,385 gets you six seats, lots of driver assists, and a very refined ride. Middle-market SUVs might not set the heart racing, but just one model within this ubiquitous SUV segment means more—more volume, more customers—than the latest hypercar that 100 people might actually buy. Realize this and you awaken to the far greater statistical relevance of the plain old SUV. SUVs make the automotive world go 'round far more than exotics. Couple that ubiquity with a hybrid drivetrain and it starts to get interesting. Hybridize a small car and you might increase fuel efficiency from 40 to 50MPG. But many more people drive big 15MPG SUVs than small efficient cars, and a hybrid SUV that delivers 20MPG actually involves a bigger improvement from the starting point. The stakes are higher. Which brings us to Toyota's Highlander. A mainstay of that ever-present strain of suburban SUVs, the Highlander offers a luxuriously impressive inside and comes close to elegance on the outside. Where Lexus has adorned all its recent cars and SUVs with the sharp-edged—and polarizing—corporate "spindle" grille and highly angular overall styling, it's possible that the Highlander gets you most of the way to Lexus luxury but without the fussiness. Actually, it's more than possible. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Brandon Anderson) An internal database used by California's police agencies chronicles some 150,000 suspected gang members. However, the CalGang database is so riddled with errors that its authenticity, and its ability to help the authorities fight gang violence, is now being questioned by the state's auditor. Consider that an audit of the crime-fighting database—which points to gang member booking photographs, birth dates, race, gender, known addresses, tattoos, convictions, interactions with police, and so on—listed 42 people under the age of one as suspected gang members. "We found 42 individuals in CalGang who were supposedly younger than one year of age at the time of entry—28 of whom were entered for 'admitting to being gang members,'" Elaine Howle, the state's top auditor, wrote in a recent review of the database, which is administered by police agencies across California's 58 counties. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A view of cars stranded on Interstate 12, near Baton Rouge, on Sunday. Boats can be seen on the right side of the image. Louisiana Civil Air Patrol It is difficult to know where to begin with the historic flooding in Louisiana during the past week. There is the sheer volume of water itself—based on rainfall accumulations, an estimated 4 trillion gallons of rain fell across southern Louisiana from the middle of Thursday through Saturday morning. That is roughly the same amount of water discharged by the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of 80 days. The rains hit hardest just to the east of Baton Rouge in Livingston Parish, which straddles Interstate 12 and is home to about 130,000 people. Some state officials have estimated that as many as 70 percent of the homes and businesses in this parish—more than 30,000 homes—were flooded. Across the state, officials say as many as 80,000 structures may have flooded. Some 20,000 people had to be rescued from flooded homes and vehicles. Very early damage estimates pegged the storm at $1 billion to $2 billion. At least seven people have died. Area roadways were also hit extremely hard. The state's Department of Transportation and Development estimates that 30 state roads were washed out, and thousands of miles of state roads were under water as water levels rose on Sunday. Some 1,400 bridges will need to be inspected, as well. From Saturday through Monday large chunks of Interstate 10 and 12, which cross the southern tier of Louisiana, were closed due to floodwaters. As of Tuesday morning, parts of Interstate 10 remained closed due to flooding. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Get a sneak peek at one whole hour of Final Fantasy 15 from the very beginning of the game. Naturally, the video contains some spoilers. The text below is spoiler-free. (video link) COLOGNE, Germany—It finally happened, a decade's worth of expectation fulfilled with a simple push of a button. Though I still can't quite believe it (and a recent delay hasn't helped) Final Fantasy XV, a game that's taken on near mythical status alongside the likes of The Last Guardian, Beyond Good and Evil 2, and Half Life 3, is finally being released on November 29—and I've already played it. Selecting "New Game" has never been quite as satisfying before. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Amazon is pushing its Original Series shows out to more outlets, this time for free. The company announced it will upload full pilot episodes of ten original shows on social media sites including YouTube and Facebook, free for anyone to watch. According to a Broadcasting and Cable report, Amazon will share the pilots for five primetime shows (including Bosch, The Man in the High Castle, and Transparent) and five kids shows (including Tumble Leaf and Wishenpoof!) on its YouTube channel and Facebook page. Currently only Amazon Prime members have access to these shows in their entirety, so this its the first time non-Prime customers can watch these episodes for free. All ten episodes have already been uploaded to Amazon's YouTube channel. Until now, these social media accounts have been used to show teasers and trailers for new Original Series content. It's likely that Amazon is trying to encourage new customers to sign up for Prime by giving them a sneak peek into its Video service. In addition to free two-day shipping, one of the perks of Amazon Prime is free, full access to Amazon Prime Video, which includes original content from Amazon as well as many other movies and TV shows. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Rimac Automobili) As its legion of online fans never cease to remind us, The Tesla Model S P90D is a fast car. Actually, that's selling the electric vehicle a little short. In Ludicrous mode it's about as quick in a straight line as a McLaren 650S, no mean feat considering the McLaren weighs 1,800lbs (815kg) less. Until now, if you wanted to go any faster in an EV you needed to roll your own, Flux Capacitor-style. But even Jonny Smith's quarter-mile EV record may be under threat, courtesy of Rimac's Concept_One. You may not have heard of Rimac Automobili but the Croatian company has been impressing us for a while now. We first saw the Concept_One in the paddock at last year's Formula E race in Miami. More recently, we met up with some of its engineers in Colorado at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb—the four-wheel torque vectoring powertrain in Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima's car is a test-bed for the Concept_One. And it has also been working with Konigsegg on the batteries and power distribution units going into the latter's Regera hybrid hypercar. We always knew the Concept_One would be fast; it's hard to argue with 1072hp (800kW) and 1180ft-lbs (1600Nm) after all. But thanks to British YouTuber Archie Hamilton now we know just what that means. Hamilton traveled to Rimac in Croatia and brought along a Tesla Model S P90D (yes, with Ludicrous mode) as well as a rather rarer beast—a Ferrari LaFerrari hybrid: Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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It takes a while to adjust to life down here, in the murk and swill of Abzû's underwater palaces. The world feels fundamentally different when your movements are slowed and made heavy by water resistance. And then, as a kind of compensation perhaps, you are given the freedom of flight: upwards and downwards you soar in slow-mo, through the teeming fish. You play as an adept diver, with strong legs, fat flippers, and a head-mounted torch but, even so, it's hard to shake the sense that you are an interloper in a foreign realm. Your get-up cannot disguise the fact that your body was not made for a place like this. You are not welcome here. It takes time to adjust to Abzû in other ways too. This is a fashionably chic independent game, with no ugly and intrusive HUD elements to spoil your view of its watery domain. But it bucks many other expected contemporary game-design conventions too. There's no map, for example, and no blinking mission-marker drawing you toward your next objective. There are, in fact, few objectives at all, at least in the usual video game sense. There's no health bar, no experience points, nor ways to level up your character's abilities. A single button is used to interact with the world, one catch-all interface used to free shoals of fish from meshes of imprisoning fronds, or to send orbiting mechanical devices to cut a window through the coral, or to loose a shark from some collapsed masonry. While, much later, there are dangers in the form of unexploded mines which will go off if you drift too close, it's not possible to die in Abzû. At worst you get an electric shock that sends you tumbling through the water for a few seconds until you recover and rediscover your bearings. No, this is a wistful, thoughtful kind of a game: a digital sightseeing tour of an underwater realm, which allows you to marvel at the watery vistas and swim eye-to-eye with great whales. Like Flower and Journey, two contemplative PlayStation games on which Abzû’s creator Matt Nava has previously worked, this is a game about experience rather than challenge, about the journey rather than the destination. At times Abzû has the ambiance of a magical Disneyland ride, an on-rails tour through vivid scenes where, each time through, you're free to pick out new details and wonders. The feeling of enchantment is compounded by Grammy-nominated composer Austin Wintory's stirring soundtrack, which calls to mind Disney's 1940 film Fantasia, which famously blended animated imagery with classical music. As you drift into and out of jet streams, through billowing curtains of seaweed, and over old bones licked white by the salt, the violins rise and fall to match your movements. As you breach the water alongside a display team of dolphins, a choir provides triumphant accompaniment. Reach the deepest parts of the sea and the soundtrack retreats, leaving nothing but the deep grumble of the tides, and the low popping of swaying bubbles leaked from the seabed. Abzû’s soundtrack, both musical and natural, is exemplary. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A video showcasing the new Audi traffic light tech. Starting this autumn, when you're stopped at some traffic lights, new Audi Q7 and A4 cars will show a real-time time-to-green-light countdown on the driver's information cluster. Now you'll know exactly when to start revving like a hooligan. The tech, which Audi has imaginatively dubbed the Traffic Light Information System, receives traffic light timing data via the car's cellular modem. In this case, rather than getting the data directly from nearby traffic lights, the data is being broadcast by some kind of city-wide traffic management system. As you have probably surmised, there are not yet many of these city-wide systems. Audi says that the green light timer will work in select cities in the US this autumn, but declined to say which cities those might be. UK, European, and Asian cities will surely follow, though no timeline has been given. If you have a 2017 Audi A4, A4 allroad, or Q7 built after June 1, with a cellular connectivity package, you will be able to use the feature (in cities where it's enabled) Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Just under a year since Nvidia brought the full desktop version of the GTX 980 to laptops, it is beginning to put an end to cut-down laptop chips altogether. Starting today, the desktop versions of the GTX 1080, GTX 1070, and GTX 1060—with some very slight tweaks—are inside laptops from the likes of MSI, Asus, Alienware, Lenovo, and Razer, to name but a few. They're even overclockable. Yes, if you want the very best graphics card outside of a Titan X inside something you can carry around with you to LAN parties, Nvidia has you covered. Well, I say carry around, but just like laptops kitted out with a desktop GTX 980, those with a GTX 1080 inside aren't exactly thin-and-light ultrabooks. Indeed, most laptop makers are reusing the same chassis as they did for the GTX 980, resulting in systems that are insanely thick, heavy, and about as portable as carrying around a sack of bricks. Oh, and don't forget the power adaptor, which—as I saw with some models in performance demos—is literally the size of a brick. But hey, at least if someone tries to mug you for your expensive laptop, you'll have something to clobber the assailant with. Still, stuffing a desktop GTX 1080 inside a laptop is an impressive technical achievement. The mobile GTX 1080 is based on the same 16nm Pascal architecture GP104 chip as its desktop counterpart, and features the same 2560 CUDA cores, the same 256-bit memory interface, and the same 8GB of GDDR5X memory running at 10GHz for 320GB/s of bandwidth. It's available in both the MXM form factor as well as integrated solutions. The GTX 1080 supports everything the other Pascal cards support too, including recent inventions such as Simultaneous Multi-Projection and Ansel (which you can read more about in our GTX 1080 review), as well as old standbys like G-Sync and GameStream. Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A law professor has filed a formal legal complaint on behalf of three advocacy organizations, arguing that stingray use by law enforcement agencies nationwide—and the Baltimore Police Department in particular—violate Federal Communications Commission rules. The new 38-page complaint makes a creative argument that because stingrays, or cell-site simulators, act as fake cell towers, that law enforcement agencies lack the spectrum licenses to be able to broadcast at the relevant frequencies. Worse still, when deployed, cell service, including 911 calls, are disrupted in the area. Stingrays are used by law enforcement to determine a mobile phone's location by spoofing a cell tower. In some cases, stingrays can intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone along with information from other phones within the vicinity. At times, police have falsely claimed the use of a confidential informant when they have actually deployed these particularly sweeping and intrusive surveillance tools. Often, they are used to locate criminal suspects. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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At Google I/O 2016, Google announced two new and separate communication apps: Allo, a new instant messenger app, and Duo a video calling app. Today Google announced Duo is finally rolling out to the masses on Android and iOS. Google Duo is a video calling app and just a video calling app—it does one-to-one video calls and nothing else. It's also only available for mobile phones—there are no Web, Chrome, or desktop clients. It doesn't even require a Google Account—Google says that "all you need is your phone number and you’ll be able to reach people in your phone’s contacts list." Duo has two features. The first is that the video calling is claimed to be "fast and reliable" even with limited bandwidth. It can switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data without dropping the call and can "gracefully degrade" the video when bandwidth gets low. The other feature is called "Knock Knock," which shows live video from your contact on the incoming call screen before you even answer the call. Knock Knock doesn't work on iOS right now. On the security side of things, Google notes that "all Duo calls are end-to-end encrypted." Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The latest news about CBS's new Star Trek series Discovery says the show will be set ten years before the events of the original Star Trek adventures with Captain Kirk and the Enterprise. Like the J.J. Abrams movie trilogy and the most recent Trek series Enterprise, Discovery will be a return to the origins of the franchise. This is a departure from the 1987-2001 period, when Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager drove the story forward into the 24th century. For the past 15 years, Trek has been stuck in the past of the franchise itself. What do we gain by endlessly returning to the origins of this interstellar tale? Obviously, we get to go back to a fan favorite period of adventure and strife. Back in the crazy days of the 23rd century, humanity didn't have replicators or positronic brains, and there was no peace with the Klingon Empire. That affords more opportunities for the kinds of problems that make for good drama. This period also offers narrative comfort food for fans, reminding them of the "good old days" of the show before everybody got so uptight about the Prime Directive and started worrying about post-colonial politics on Bajor and other developing worlds. Teaser trailer for Star Trek: Discovery 24th century Trek As Manu Saadia points out in his excellent book Trekonomics, there's a huge gulf between the civilization of TOS and TNG for one reason: the replicator. As a result of this one piece of technology, humans can basically turn energy into matter (with a few exceptions, like the dilithium crystals needed for warp drive and the valuable material latinum). The replicator means pretty much all problems with scarcity are technically solved. Nobody needs to work for a living, because all our material needs can be met as fast as you can say "tea, Earl Grey, hot." Work itself as a concept is radically transformed. People only work because they choose to work; everyone enjoys (or at least gets satisfaction from) their job. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Power bricks like this one for Intel's Core M Compute Stick are nice, but at a glance it can be hard to know how or whether it will work with other Type-C devices. Andrew Cunningham USB Type-C remains a versatile port with a ton of potential, but the fact that different Type-C ports have different capabilities is still a sticking point. Especially in laptops and desktops, it’s hard to tell whether a port will charge the laptop or drive a monitor or just do plain old data. For the USB Implementers Forum, a body that can strongly recommend ways for USB licensees to market and label their products but can’t actually mandate anything, defining new standards and logos are its best weapon against consumer confusion. To that end, the USB-IF is introducing a new “Certified USB Charger Compliance and Logo Program,” a more consumer-friendly face for Type-C chargers compatible with the USB Power Delivery spec. Certified chargers will “resemble a traditional power brick or wall wart” and “will be interoperable with compatible USB Type-C devices,” and it’s one more incremental step toward universal chargers that actually work with every gadget you’ve got to carry around. The new USB logo for certified power adapters. (credit: USB-IF) In return for meeting the requirements, manufacturers will be able to (but are not required to) slap a USB logo on the chargers that denotes that it has been certified by the USB-IF and how much power it can supply. The USB Power Delivery spec can supply up to 100W of power, but the USB-IF believes that 15W, 27W, 45W, and 60W will be the most common. And there’s nothing stopping licensees from using their power adapters to supply some additional functionality, like Intel’s Compute Stick power brick that doubles as a USB hub. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: John Skewes) Turns out the FBI isn't the only agency to take over a child pornography website and bust some of its participants. Australian authorities have apparently employed similar tactics against Americans—revealing at least 30 targets. According to Vice Motherboard, which first reported the story on Monday, Queensland Police Service’s Task Force Argos identified the owner of a Tor-hidden child porn site called “The Love Zone.” Queensland Police posed as The Love Zone for several months in 2014. (The Love Zone's Australian owner, Shannon McCoole, is currently serving a 35-year sentence.) Once they had control, Aussie cops seem to have sent out a child porn video file as bait to users of the site. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: NASA) In 2009, following a series of space shuttle missions to complete major portions of the International Space Station, the crew size aboard the orbiting laboratory expanded to six. The number of crew members aboard the station has, more or less, remained steady since then, with Russia providing half the crew while NASA and its international partners provide another three astronauts. But, in a surprise announcement, Russia is considering scaling back its crew complement from three to two. According to Russian media reports, Sergei Krikalev, the director of human programs for Roscosmos, said the move was made to lower Russia's ongoing costs to service the station. By reducing the number of its crew members, Russia will need to fly fewer Progress cargo ships, which deliver food and supplies to the Russian side of the station. Roscosmos already spends considerably less on station operations than NASA does. Russian media report that Roscosmos plans to spend about $4.1 billion from 2016 through 2025 for station maintenance. That's just a little more than NASA's annual expenses for station operation and transportation, which were $3.7 billion in fiscal year 2016. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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