posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Melvinjohn Ashue, vice chairman of the Hoh Tribe, discusses the tribe's use of Starlink broadband. (credit: Washington State Department of Commerce) A remote tribe in Washington state is one of the first users of SpaceX's Starlink broadband, having been connected recently after years of struggling to get modern Internet service. "We're very remote," said Melvinjohn Ashue, vice chairman of the Hoh Tribe's governing committee. "The last eight years I felt like we have been paddling upriver with a spoon and almost getting nowhere with getting Internet to the reservation." The Hoh Tribe's reservation is in western Washington and had a population of 28 households with 116 people in the 2010 US Census. Ashue described the tribe's Internet problems and use of Starlink in a video produced by the Washington State Department of Commerce. The video serves partly to advertise the state agency's efforts to get everyone connected to modern broadband by 2024, a goal that has been helped along by SpaceX's decision to start its limited Starlink beta in Washington. Previously, we wrote about how Washington state emergency responders are using Starlink in areas ravaged by wildfires. Residents of the wildfire-stricken town of Malden have also used Starlink.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Animation depicting a star experiencing spaghettification as it’s sucked in by a supermassive black hole during a "tidal disruption event." It's a popular misconception that black holes behave like cosmic vacuum cleaners, ravenously sucking up any matter in their surroundings. In reality, only stuff that passes beyond the event horizon—including light—is swallowed up and can't escape, although black holes are also messy eaters. That means that part of an object's matter is actually ejected out in a powerful jet. If that object is a star, the process of being shredded (or "spaghettified") by the powerful gravitational forces of a black hole occurs outside the event horizon, and part of the star's original mass is ejected violently outward. This in turn can form a rotating ring of matter (aka an accretion disk) around the black hole that emits powerful X-rays and visible light. Those jets are one way astronomers can indirectly infer the presence of a black hole. Now astronomers have recorded the final death throes of a star being shredded by a supermassive black hole in just such a "tidal disruption event" (TDE), described in a new paper published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. "The idea of a black hole 'sucking in' a nearby star sounds like science fiction. But this is exactly what happens in a tidal disruption event," said co-author Matt Nicholl of the University of Birmingham. "We were able to investigate in detail what happens when a star is eaten by such a monster."Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Roscosmos Head Dmitry Rogozin before Russia-China talks at the Moscow Kremlin in June. (credit: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images) There's a nasty, increasingly public battle that has engulfed a handful of former cosmonauts, a robot, and the current leader of Russia's space program, Dmitry Rogozin, in controversy. The genesis of the dispute seems to be that some former cosmonauts have begun to speak out against Rogozin's leadership of Russia's space efforts—which has at times seemed self-serving—amid the rise of competitors like SpaceX and the decline of the country's aging infrastructure. The most outspoken critic of Rogozin and Russia's space program has been Maxim Suraev, a Russian fighter pilot who served six-month stints on the International Space Station in 2010 and 2014. After retiring from the cosmonaut corps, Suraev was elected to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian assembly.Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Kia says the Niro EV can fast-charge at up to 100kW. For some reason it tells chargers it can actually do 150kW, but in practice you might never see more than 77kW. Confusing, eh? (credit: Jonathan Gitlin) One in 10 new cars sold across Europe this year will be electric or plug-in hybrid, triple last year’s sales levels after carmakers rolled out new models to meet emissions rules, according to projections from green policy group Transport & Environment. The market share of mostly electric cars will rise to 15 percent next year, the group forecasts, as carmakers across the continent race to cut their CO2 levels. The projections are based on sales data for the first half of the year, as well as expected increases as manufacturers scramble to comply with tightening restrictions in 2021. “Electric car sales are booming thanks to EU emissions standards,” said clean vehicle director Julia Poliscanova. “Next year, one in every seven cars sold in Europe will be a plug-in.”Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Artist's conception of competing lawyers from Apple and Epic Game focusing their legal arguments on the court. Metaphorically, of course. Apple can continue to block Epic Games' Fortnite from the iOS App Store as the parties move to a trial, Federal District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said in a ruling issued late Friday. In the 39-page ruling, Judge Rogers restates her previous finding that any harm Epic is currently facing to its Fortnite business, or to the game's reputation, is self-inflicted on Epic's part. The company brought about the current state of affairs when it issued a hotfix update offering a new Epic Direct Payments in-app purchase (IAP) system for Fortnite, a move that was in direct violation of its iOS App Store development contract with Apple. "In short, Epic Games cannot simply exclaim 'monopoly' to rewrite agreements giving itself unilateral benefit," Judge Rogers writes in denying Epic's request for an injunction restoring Fortnite to the App Store. "The current predicament is of its own making."Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / A Facebook logo in front of an EU flag in this photo illustration on November 20, 2017. (credit: Jaap Arriens | NurPhoto | Getty) EU regulators are drawing up a “hit list” of up to 20 large Internet companies, likely to include Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook and Apple, that will be subject to new and far more stringent rules aimed at curbing their market power. Under the plans, large platforms that find themselves on the list will have to comply with tougher regulation than smaller competitors, according to people familiar with the discussions, including new rules that will force them to share data with rivals and an obligation to be more transparent on how they gather information. The list will be compiled based on a number of criteria, including market share of revenues and number of users, meaning the likes of Facebook and Google are likely to be included. Those deemed to be so powerful that rivals cannot trade without using their platforms could also be added.Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Xplora) A popular smartwatch designed exclusively for children contains an undocumented backdoor that makes it possible for someone to remotely capture camera snapshots, wiretap voice calls, and track locations in real time, a researcher said. The X4 smartwatch is marketed by Xplora, a Norway-based seller of children’s watches. The device, which sells for about $200, runs on Android and offers a range of capabilities, including the ability to make and receive voice calls to parent-approved numbers and to send an SOS broadcast that alerts emergency contacts to the location of the watch. A separate app that runs on the smartphones of parents allows them to control how the watches are used and receive warnings when a child has strayed beyond a present geographic boundary. But that’s not all It turns out that the X4 contains something else: a backdoor that went undiscovered until some impressive digital sleuthing. The backdoor is activated by sending an encrypted text message. Harrison Sand, a researcher at Norwegian security company Mnemonic, said that commands exist for surreptitiously reporting the watch’s real-time location, taking a snapshot and sending it to an Xplora server, and making a phone call that transmits all sounds within earshot.Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Multitudes are working from home. This changes how business' networks work. (credit: zf L / Getty Images) We're 10 months into 2020, and businesses are still making adjustments to the new realities of large-scale telework (which, if you're not in the IT biz, is just a fancy term for "working from not in the office"). In the Before Times, telework was an interesting idea that tech companies were just starting to seriously flirt with as a normal way of doing business—whereas now, most businesses large or small have a hefty fraction of their workforce staying home to work. Unfortunately, making such a sweeping change to office workflow doesn't just disrupt policies and expectations—it requires important changes to the technical infrastructure as well. Six months ago, we talked about the changes the people who work from home frequently need to make to accommodate telework; today, we're going to look at the ongoing changes the businesses themselves need to make. We’re going to need a bigger boat pipe This small business was hurting very badly on the afternoon shown—it's blowing through its 20Mbps upload pipe nearly nonstop for a half-hour straight during the peak of the workday. [credit: Jim Salter ] The most obvious problem that businesses have faced—and are continuing to face—with a greatly multiplied number of remote workers is the size of the company's Internet connection. If you need a quarter—or half, or three quarters—of your workforce to remote in to work every day, you need enough bandwidth to accommodate them.Read 27 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 17 days ago on ars technica
Microsoft provided the following three images of DiRT 5 running on Xbox Series X, which line up with how the game can look in its sweetened "photo" mode. But how does it look in action? Read on to find out. [credit: Codemasters ] While I have been testing a pre-release Xbox Series X console for nearly a month, ahead of its November 10 launch, I have had very few new games to test on it. Most of my effort has revolved around its massive backwards-compatible feature set—as seen in a very long feature about how older games benefit from newer hardware. Today, for the first time, I'm allowed to lift the curtain on a game made for Xbox Series consoles: DiRT 5, the latest drift-heavy racing game from Codemasters. What's more, it is the first game I've ever tested for a bespoke game console with frame rates up to 120fps. That's a substantial increase from the 60fps max of past console generations (and a big rally-car leap above the 30fps cap you typically see on current-gen games). I want to be clear: DiRT 5 is not the best foot forward for Xbox Series X, and I'm not entirely sure it's representative of the console's next-gen promise. I urge you to keep an eye out for more next-gen game impressions before loading ammunition into your preferred "console war" cannon. But DiRT 5's first taste of 120Hz racing on a console, and what it takes to get there, is fascinating enough to merit an asterisk-covered preview.Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 18 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Layers of phosphorene sheets form black carbon. (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Right now, electric vehicles are limited by the range that their batteries allow. That's because recharging the vehicles, even under ideal situations, can't be done as quickly as refueling an internal combustion vehicle. So far, most of the effort on extending the range has been focused on increasing a battery's capacity. But it could be just as effective to create a battery that can charge much more quickly, making a recharge as fast and simple as filling your tank. There are no shortage of ideas about how this might be arranged, but a paper published earlier this week in Science suggests an unusual way that it might be accomplished: using a material called black phosphorus, which forms atom-thick sheets with lithium-sized channels in it. On its own, black phosphorus isn't a great material for batteries, but a Chinese-US team has figured out how to manipulate it so it works much better. Even if black phosphorus doesn't end up working out as a battery material, the paper provides some insight into the logic and process of developing batteries. Paint it black So, what is black phosphorus? The easiest way to understand it is by comparisons to graphite, a material that's already in use as an electrode for lithium-ion batteries. Graphite is a form of carbon that's just a large collection of graphene sheets layered on top of each other. Graphene, in turn, is a sheet formed by an enormous molecule formed by carbon atoms bonded to each other, with the carbons arranged in a hexagonal pattern. In the same way, black phosphorus is composed of many layered sheets of an atom-thick material called phosphorene.Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 18 days ago on ars technica
The trailer for The Columnist Maybe this is too wonky for those outside of film nerdom to care, but 2020 has cemented a fundamental truth about festivals—international films are increasingly the MVP of this scene. Sure, at the highest of high profile events (Cannes, TIFF, Sundance, Telluride), you can reliably get a sneak peek at the titles showing up at the next Oscars ceremony. But for the rest of us who maybe only make it to one or two of these things that tend to be local affairs (shout out to Austin Film Festival and Fantastic Fest), a lot of the most interesting stuff available comes from abroad. Russia's Zoology (now on Amazon Prime) took How Stella Got Her Groove Back and gave it a dystopian sci-fi setting in 2016. Sweden's Border (streaming on Hulu) found a fantastic approach to examine national borders and how we treat others in 2018, and it played some of the same events as the gripping filmmaking of Denmark's The Guilty (also on Hulu before the US version with Jake Gyllenhaal happens). And last year, anyone even remotely following the film calendar was aware of Bong Joon-Ho's masterful Parasite (Hulu, again, really getting it done) rising up from the festival scene to the Oscars stage. Our year of COVID-19 may only be strengthening this trend. Big US feature films with hopes for a theatrical run seem hesitant to participate in festivals that exist only as VOD. Small shorts looking to make a splash and find a deal for full-length productions have hit pause, too, preferring to save their "premiere" bargaining chip for a time when film festivals can bring industry folks together in person once more. But international films, some of which have already enjoyed theatrical runs in their home countries (last year or during a better pandemic response), simply come to festivals to find new audiences and maybe upgrade for a US theatrical run or a wider-reaching streaming service deal. That's still happening in 2020. And in a year where US film fans may be starved for new titles to get excited about, we all need to hope the Netherlands' The Columnist soon transitions from the festival scene to your preferred at-home screen. Talk about relatable Dutch newspaper columnist Femke Boot (Katja Herbers, Westworld) writes about the toxic aspects of online culture, which means anonymous haters on Twitter and Facebook or in comment threads just love her. All that bile seems to grow exponentially with each of Boot's new columns or appearances. "We are all people, and we shouldn't forget that," Boot says while appearing as an analyst on some 24-hour news channel's "Twitter: A Blessing or a Curse?" special. "Well, we also shouldn't forget to recycle or to eat our vegetables," responds her counterpart, a conservative fiction writer named Stephen Dood (Bram van der Kelen). His work, naturally, seems to often involve an awful lot of murder and violence against women.Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 18 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / A cowpea plant flower. (credit: Maria Dattola Photography | Getty Images) Jack Hoopes spends a lot of time with dying dogs. A veterinary radiation specialist at Dartmouth College, Hoopes has spent his decades-long career treating canine cancers with the latest experimental therapies as a pathway for developing human treatments. Recently, many of Hoopes’ furry patients have come to him with a relatively common oral cancer that will almost certainly kill them within a few months if left untreated. Even if the cancer goes into remission after radiation treatment, there’s a very high chance it will soon re-emerge. For Hoopes, it’s a grim prognosis that’s all too familiar. But these pups are in luck. They’re patients in an experimental study exploring the efficacy of a new cancer treatment derived from a common plant virus. After receiving the viral therapy, several of the dogs had their tumors disappear entirely and lived into old age without recurring cancer. Given that around 85 percent of dogs with oral cancer will develop a new tumor within a year of radiation therapy, the results were striking. The treatment, Hoopes felt, had the potential to be a breakthrough that could save lives, both human and canine. “If a treatment works in dog cancer, it has a very good chance of working, at some level, in human patients,” says Hoopes.Read 34 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 19 days ago on ars technica
James Marsden, Whoopi Goldberg and Alexander Skarsgård star in the new CBS All Access limited miniseries The Stand, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. It's Stephen King's world; we're just living in it. During New York Comic Con, CBS All Access dropped the first official trailer for its ten-episode limited miniseries of The Stand, an adaptation of King's sprawling 1978 post-apocalyptic fantasy novel about the aftermath of a deadly pandemic that wipes out most of the world's population. (Some spoilers for the Stephen King novel below.) The Stand is widely considered to be among King's best work, with a sprawling cast of characters and multiple storylines. It's also his longest, with the 1990 Complete and Uncut Edition surpassing even It in page count. King has said he wanted to write an epic dark fantasy akin to The Lord of the Rings, only with a contemporary American setting. "Instead of a hobbit, my hero was a Texan named Stu Redman, and instead of a Dark Lord, my villain was a ruthless drifter and supernatural madman named Randall Flagg," King wrote in his 1981 nonfiction book, Danse Macabre. "The land of Mordor ('where the shadows lie,' according to Tolkien) was played by Las Vegas."Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 19 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / August 14 and 15 saw a heatwave drive rolling blackouts. And then on August 16, a station in Death Valley hit 130°F... (credit: NASA EO) In mid-August, just before dry lightning storms ignited a series of fires that would break records in California, an intense heatwave resulted in rolling blackouts on two consecutive days. The trouble came in the evening, when solar generation drops off, leading some to claim this was the consequence of relying on renewable electricity. But it’s not that simple, as the outages could have been avoided. A new “preliminary root cause analysis” report from two state commissions and the California Independent System Operator that runs the grid presents a clearer picture of what went wrong. The rolling outages affected a few hundred thousand people starting around 6:30pm on both August 14 and 15. They were actually the result of the grid's rules: once the remaining reserve generation falls below six percent of current demand, the grid operator is required to institute rolling blackouts. The report blames the need for outages on three things: extreme and widespread hot weather, a failure to update peak-demand forecasting practices as solar generation grows, and mistakes on the grid market that led to some plants exporting power when it was actually needed in-state.Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 19 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The 2014 Mac mini is pictured here alongside the 2012 Mac mini. They looked the same, but the insides were different in some key—and disappointing—ways. (credit: Andrew Cunningham) A recently released tool is letting anyone exploit an unusual Mac vulnerability to bypass Apple's trusted T2 security chip and gain deep system access. The flaw is one researchers have also been using for more than a year to jailbreak older models of iPhones. But the fact that the T2 chip is vulnerable in the same way creates a new host of potential threats. Worst of all, while Apple may be able to slow down potential hackers, the flaw is ultimately unfixable in every Mac that has a T2 inside. In general, the jailbreak community hasn't paid as much attention to macOS and OS X as it has iOS, because they don't have the same restrictions and walled gardens that are built into Apple's mobile ecosystem. But the T2 chip, launched in 2017, created some limitations and mysteries. Apple added the chip as a trusted mechanism for securing high-value features like encrypted data storage, Touch ID, and Activation Lock, which works with Apple's "Find My" services. But the T2 also contains a vulnerability, known as Checkm8, that jailbreakers have already been exploiting in Apple's A5 through A11 (2011 to 2017) mobile chipsets. Now Checkra1n, the same group that developed the tool for iOS, has released support for T2 bypass. On Macs, the jailbreak allows researchers to probe the T2 chip and explore its security features. It can even be used to run Linux on the T2 or play Doom on a MacBook Pro's Touch Bar. The jailbreak could also be weaponized by malicious hackers, though, to disable macOS security features like System Integrity Protection and Secure Boot and install malware. Combined with another T2 vulnerability that was publicly disclosed in July by the Chinese security research and jailbreaking group Pangu Team, the jailbreak could also potentially be used to obtain FileVault encryption keys and to decrypt user data. The vulnerability is unpatchable, because the flaw is in low-level, unchangeable code for hardware.Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 19 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Milana Romazanova | Getty Images) Though ransomware has been around for years, it poses an ever-increasing threat to hospitals, municipal governments, and basically any institution that can't tolerate downtime. But along with the various types of PC malware that are typically used in these attacks, there's another burgeoning platform for ransomware as well: Android phones. And new research from Microsoft shows that criminal hackers are investing time and resources in refining their mobile ransomware tools—a sign that their attacks are generating payouts. Released on Thursday, the findings, which were detected using Microsoft Defender on mobile, look at a variant of a known Android ransomware family that has added some clever tricks. That includes a new ransom note delivery mechanism, improved techniques to avoid detection, and even a machine learning component that could be used to fine-tune the attack for different victims' devices. While mobile ransomware has been around since at least 2014 and still isn't a ubiquitous threat, it could be poised to take a bigger leap. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 19 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Getty Images) The FBI and the cybersecurity arm of the Department of Homeland Security said they have detected hackers exploiting a critical Windows vulnerability against state and local governments and that in some cases the attacks are being used to breach networks used to support elections. Members of unspecific APTs—the abbreviation for advanced persistent threats—are exploiting the Windows vulnerability dubbed Zerologon. It gives attackers who already have a toehold on a vulnerable network access to the all-powerful domain controllers that administrators use to allocate new accounts and manage existing ones. To gain initial access, the attackers are exploiting separate vulnerabilities in firewalls, VPNs, and other products from companies including Juniper, Pulse Secure, Citrix NetScaler, and Palo Alto Networks. All of the vulnerabilities—Zerologon included—have received patches, but as evidenced by Friday’s warning from the DHS and FBI, not everyone has installed them. The inaction is putting governments and elections systems at all levels at risk.Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 19 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / We've previously put these Amazon Games mascots behind prison bars; now, they're in flames. RIP, Crucible. We hardly knew ye. (credit: Amazon Games / Aurich Lawson) As it turns out, Amazon's idea of a Crucible couldn't handle the intense heat and pressure of the games industry. After launching in May of this year, Crucible, Amazon Games' first large-scale shooter title for PC, will stop receiving updates and matchmaking support on November 9, the studio announced on Friday (at the exact end-of-week hour that bad game-news stories are typically sent to pasture). The company is taking the extreme measure of offering a "full refund" for any purchases made during the free-to-play game's lifespan, and it's directing customers to make refund requests through either Steam Support or Amazon's own contact form, depending on where purchases were originally made. This followed the game's formal delisting from Steam in July, which followed painfully low concurrent player counts (as low as 200) that made it difficult for players to successfully matchmake with each other. Though the game launched with considerable attention, including a promotional blitz on the Amazon-owned game-streaming platform Twitch, it only briefly maintained a player population exceeding 10,000 users.Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 20 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Microsoft sign at the entrance of their Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View, California. (credit: Nicolas McComber | Getty Images) Microsoft this week adopted a whole slew of "fairness principles" for its Windows app store. The list of principles does look like a decent set of guidelines for both consumers and developers—but it also looks a whole lot like Microsoft is taking the metaphorical ball, throwing it at Apple's face, and daring their iCompetitor to make the next move. The principles, which Microsoft listed in a corporate blog post, essentially promise that Windows will keep on doing what it already does with regard to app distribution, interoperability, payment systems, and everything else. The first item, for example, promises that developers may choose whether to distribute Windows programs through the Microsoft Store or through their own competing app storefronts. This has always been the case, and it's why Steam, the Epic Games store, and every other Windows software distribution method exist. Windows also promises not to block an app from Windows "based on a developer's choice of which payment system to use" for processing in-app purchases which, again, is why and how both Web-based and app-based digital software storefronts for Windows exist.Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 20 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The promotional key art graphic Apple sent out with its announcement about its October 13, 2020, product launch event. (credit: Apple) Liveblog starts in: View Liveblog At 10:00am Pacific time (1pm Eastern) on Tuesday, October 13, Apple will hold its second live event in less than a month—almost certainly to announce new iPhones this time, after the previous event focused on iPads and the Apple Watch. Ars Technica will be liveblogging the event and publishing the major announcements in real time as usual. Return to this page when the event starts to follow the updates. This event carries the tagline "Hi, Speed," which could refer to any number of things: 5G modems in new phones, the faster A14 chip that was already introduced last month, or even Apple Silicon in the first non-Intel Mac in many years.Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 20 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Sony) After tearing the PlayStation 5's guts apart earlier this week, Sony confirmed nearly everything we'd like to know on Friday about how its new console, launching November 12, will interface with PS4 games via backward compatibility. We should probably start with the big news that Sony has not cleared up just yet. Today, we received our first indication that PlayStation 5 will ship with something known as "Game Boost," which its Friday news post suggests "may make [select] PS4 games run with a higher or smoother frame rate." This suggestion doesn't come with a handy footnote pointing us to a list of affected games or features, however.Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 20 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong. (credit: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images) Sixty Coinbase employees have accepted a buyout offer after CEO Brian Armstrong announced a controversial new policy curbing political activism inside the company. Armstrong disclosed the figure in a Thursday email to employees. Armstrong announced the new policy last week after a summer when many technology companies faced pressure from their employees to become more outspoken on issues of social justice. "While I think these efforts are well-intentioned, they have the potential to destroy a lot of value at most companies, both by being a distraction, and by creating internal division," Armstrong wrote in a September 27 blog post. "We've seen what internal strife at companies like Google and Facebook can do to productivity. I believe most employees don't want to work in these divisive environments."Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 20 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Operators are standing by! (credit: QVC) A fresh report from Bloomberg details Google's new plan to squeeze even more revenue out of YouTube, which is already a $15 billion-a-year business. Google apparently wants to turn YouTube into a shopping destination, where viewers can watch things like product unboxings, makeup, or cooking videos and immediately buy featured products directly through YouTube. The report says YouTube is currently "testing these features with a limited number of video channels" and "[t]he goal is to convert YouTube's bounty of videos into a vast catalog of items that viewers can peruse, click on, and buy directly." The company is asking creators to tag items featured in videos through a new piece of software that can be used for analytics and purchasing. Apparently, YouTube has been testing shopping features for a while now. Bloomberg's report says, "Late last year, YouTube began testing a similar Shopify integration for creators who can list as many as 12 items for sale on a digital carousel below their videos, according to the company." Shopify is a turnkey online store provider. For now, this is all a test, but Bloomberg got a YouTube spokesperson to confirm that the company is looking into e-commerce options for the site. Google CEO Sundar Pichai actually pitched the idea of YouTube Shopping on the company's Q1 2020 earnings, saying, "When you think about things like unboxing and product reviews, those are a natural home for transactions as well. I earlier mentioned about all the work we are doing now on commerce. All of that, I'm looking forward to those integrations coming into YouTube and working better as well."Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 20 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / This demonstration of Microsoft's Project xCloud as played with a Razer Kishi controller, attached to a standard Android smartphone, could be a hint of what's to come to iOS devices in 2021. (credit: Microsoft) Project xCloud, the Microsoft game-streaming service that comes packed as a bonus in certain Xbox Game Pass subscription plans, may finally have a path to working on Apple's range of iOS devices—well after a public row between the tech giants that put the possibility into question. The news comes from a report by Business Insider, which claimed that an internal Microsoft meeting on Wednesday included a vote of confidence from Xbox chief Phil Spencer. "We absolutely will end up on iOS," Spencer reportedly said about getting its streamed Project xCloud game content onto iOS devices in "2021." Progressive policies Previously, Apple shot down existing versions of both Project xCloud (which has since been rolled into the "Xbox Game Pass" app) and Google Stadia as iOS apps. Their public statements hinged on "reviewing" the games included in the subscription against App Store guidelines, though the issue could also stem from in-app purchases within both Xbox and Stadia's offerings. Eventually, Apple offered a revised stance on such apps, but this onerous "approval for every separate game" proposal comes with its own headaches, as opposed to a clear path toward a simple subscription service (as you'll find in popular iOS media apps like Netflix and Amazon Video).Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 20 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / AT&T's logo at its corporate headquarters on March 13, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. (credit: Getty Images | Ronald Martinez ) AT&T is planning thousands of layoffs at HBO, Warner Bros., and other parts of WarnerMedia as part of a plan to cut costs by up to 20 percent, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. WarnerMedia is what used to be called Time Warner Inc. before AT&T purchased the entertainment company in 2018. Layoffs and cost cuts are nothing new at AT&T in general, including at  WarnerMedia. But WarnerMedia has taken a particularly big hit since the pandemic began. AT&T laid off about 600 people from WarnerMedia in August, a prelude to the new cuts revealed yesterday. The Journal wrote: AT&T's WarnerMedia is restructuring its workforce as it seeks to reduce costs by as much as 20 percent as the coronavirus pandemic drains income from movie tickets, cable subscriptions and television ads, according to people familiar with the matter. The overhaul, which is expected to begin in the coming weeks, would result in thousands of layoffs across Warner Bros. studios and TV channels like HBO, TBS and TNT, the people said. WarnerMedia told the Journal that it has been significantly impacted by the pandemic and plans to reorganize to focus on growth opportunities. "We are in the midst of that process and it will involve increased investments in priority areas and, unfortunately, reductions in others," WarnerMedia said. WarnerMedia had nearly 30,000 employees earlier this year.Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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