posted 11 days ago on ars technica
Way back in 1966—after two unsuccessful attempts to beat Ferrari at its own game—the Ford Motor Company scored an impressive win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Last June, the Blue Oval returned to La Sarthe for a repeat performance, finishing first and third in class (bookending a Ferrari in the process). The company is hoping that was no one-off, and it will be back again this year with a four-car effort, hoping to make it two for two. That race takes place between June 17 and 18, but ahead of the event we caught up with one of Ford's racing drivers, Joey Hand, to find out how the preparation has been going and his thoughts on competing in one of our favorite races of the year. Video edited by Jennifer Hahn. (video link) Hand has raced in a ton of different series but appears to be enjoying racing in the factory-backed GTE-Pro and GTLM (in IMSA's series) class. "It's one of the most competitive things I've done," he told Ars. "You have two factory drivers all the time, so it makes for good, tough fights." Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Ars plays games and talks to their devs at a PlayStation media mixer. Video shot by Anthony Falleroni. (video link) LOS ANGELES—Ahead of PlayStation's Monday press conference, Ars Technica attended a media-exclusive mixer full of playable new PS4 and PSVR video games. Since many of them had their developers standing nearby, we grabbed cameras and microphones to dig a little further into some interesting games coming to PlayStation in the near future. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
(credit: Aurich Lawson) Once again, Microsoft has opted to patch the out-of-support Windows XP. Dan has written about the new patch, the circumstances around the flaws it addresses, and why Microsoft has chosen to protect Windows XP users. While Microsoft's position is a tricky one, we argue in this post first published in 2014 that patching is the wrong decision: it sends a clear message to recalcitrant corporations that they can stick with Windows XP, insecure as it is, because if anything too serious is found, Microsoft will update it anyway. Windows 10 contains a wide range of defense-in-depth measures that will never be included in Windows XP: every time an organization resists upgrading to Microsoft's latest operating system, it jeopardizes its own security. Microsoft officially ended support of the twelve-and-a-half-year-old Windows XP operating system a few weeks ago. Except it apparently didn't, because the company has included Windows XP in its off-cycle patch to fix an Internet Explorer zero-day that's receiving some amount of in-the-wild exploitation. The unsupported operating system is, in fact, being supported. Explaining its actions, Microsoft says that this patch is an "exception" because of the "proximity to the end of support for Windows XP." Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Ars Technica discusses the Xbox One X and goes hands-on with some upcoming Xbox software. Video shot by Andrew Falleroni, edited by Jennifer Hahn. (video link) LOS ANGELES—For a year now, we've been hearing about how Project Scorpio will bring "true 4K" gaming to the living-room masses with enhanced versions of the same software that runs on the Xbox One. Now, at E3 2017, we finally got a chance to go hands-on with the system now known as the Xbox One X. From a technical standpoint, our initial impressions have been mixed. For sure, the extra power of the Xbox One X is noticeable. Things like increased draw distances in Minecraft or destructible environments in Gears of War 4 provide definite improvements over those same games running on the original Xbox One. Even incidental details, like a rattling windshield wiper on a shaking car in Forza Motorsport 7, speak to how much extra processing overhead developers have to play with on the new system. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: iPredator) A former reporter for The Intercept apologized in a federal court Tuesday while pleading guilty to cyberstalking and other allegations connected to a string of bomb threats to Jewish organizations. Some of the threatening e-mails, which began in the wake of President Donald Trump's inauguration, were in his ex-girlfriend's name or sought to incriminate her as being responsible for the fake bomb threats. Juan Thompson “I committed all of these acts with the intent to disrupt my ex-romantic partner's life and cause her great distress. For this, I deeply apologize and plead guilty," (PDF) Thompson said in a New York federal court. The 32-year-old was arrested in March and has remained jailed. He is set for sentencing September 15. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Former First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the new, modernized Nutrition Facts Label at the Building a Healthier Future Summit. (credit: Getty | Nurphoto) Following pressure from the food and beverage industry, the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that it would indefinitely delay the rollout of new nutrition labels that were designed to help consumers better evaluate the contents and of packaged foods. The nutrition label redesign was finalized in May of 2016 and championed by Michelle Obama as part of nutrition reforms. The tweaks include: highlighting calorie content, per serving as well as per package; noting the amount of added sugars; and adding the amounts of vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium instead of just showing percentages of daily recommended values. Manufacturers originally had more than two years to refresh their labels with the new standards. The deadline for large producers was July 26, 2018, while those making less than $10 million in annual food sales had an additional year. Some companies are smoothly working on the roll-out of their new labels, while others pushed back on lawmakers by saying they needed more time. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Oh look it's Essie, the 18th century version of Laura, who is stealing and sleeping around to get ahead in life. (credit: Starz) This week's American Gods was the penultimate episode of the season, and we were expecting a certain amount of closure. But no! Instead we got a bunch of filler that didn't advance the story. Author Claire Light joined us on Decrypted to talk about the structure of American Gods episodes and where this one went wrong. We also have an interview with Technical Boy (Bruce Langley)! Spoilers ahead! Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Portable air conditioners. (credit: Your Best Digs) Nonprofit consumer and environmental groups as well as 11 states sued the Department of Energy (DOE) today for failing to enact energy efficiency standards (PDF) promulgated by the Obama administration. The standards apply to portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors, walk-in coolers and freezers, and commercial packaged boilers. The debacle began back in April when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and officials from 10 other states demanded that newly-confirmed Energy Secretary Rick Perry enact energy efficiency rules for ceiling fans. Those rules were finalized in the last days of the Obama Administration and were set to take effect March 20, 2017. Perry delayed the date that the ceiling-fan rules were to take effect and looked set to delay or ignore five other energy efficiency rules for the air conditioner and power-supply group as well. Those efficiency standards were set to be published after the ceiling-fan rules were published, on March 15, 2017. Schneiderman and the other attorneys general filed an appellate court petition asking for intervention in the ceiling-fan matter. The state prosecutors then sent a notice of an intent to sue the DOE if it didn’t enact the second group of energy efficiency rules within 60 days. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Charles Thacker (left) as seen in 2008. (credit: Marcin Wichary) Charles Thacker, one of the lead hardware designers on the Xerox Alto, the first modern personal computer, died of a brief illness on Monday. He was 74. The Alto, which was released in 1973 but was never a commercial success, was an incredibly influential machine. Ahead of its time, it boasted resizeable windows as part of its graphical user interface, along with a mouse, Ethernet, and numerous other technologies that didn't become standard until years later. (Last year, Y Combinator acquired one and began restoring it.) "Chuck" Thacker was born in Pasadena, California, in 1943. He first attended the California Institute of Technology in his hometown but later transferred to the University of California, Berkeley in 1967. While in northern California, Thacker began to abandon his academic pursuit of physics and dove deeper into computer hardware design, where he joined Project Genie, an influential computer research group. By the end of the decade, several members, including Thacker, became the core of Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) computer research group, where they developed the Alto. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
OneDrive placeholders are back. A new OneDrive client is available for the latest Windows 10 Insider build, and it brings back seamless integration with OneDrive cloud storage under the name "OneDrive Files On Demand." With cloud storage services, it's very easy to have large amounts of storage and data "in the cloud" that you don't necessarily have room for locally. The traditional solution has been some kind of selective sync; some folders are nominated to be stored locally, while others are visible only through the service provider's Web interface. While this addresses immediate size constraints—it means that your hundreds of gigabytes of cloud files won't overflow your laptop's paltry 128GB SSD—it typically represents an awkward usability trade-off. Those files that aren't synchronized locally become invisible to the operating system, so you can't browse and manage them in Explorer, and neither can you open them directly in your applications. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Optical units and control circuits can be etched onto a single chip. (credit: Glenn J. Asakawa/MIT) While there are lots of things that artificial intelligence can't do yet—science being one of them—neural networks are proving themselves increasingly adept at a huge variety of pattern recognition tasks. These tasks can range anywhere from recognizing specific faces in photos to identifying specific patterns of particle decays in physics. Right now, neural networks are typically run on regular computers. Unfortunately, those networks are a poor architectural match; neurons combine both memory and calculations into a single unit, while our computers keep those functions separate. For this reason, some companies are exploring dedicated neural network chips. But a US-Canadian team is now suggesting an alternative: optical computing. While not as compact or complex as the competing options, optical computing is incredibly quick and energy-efficient. Optical computing works because static optical elements perform transformations on light that are the equivalent of mathematical transformations. For example, the authors note, a plain old lens like in a magnifying glass effectively performs a Fourier transform without using any power whatsoever. It's also possible to perform things like matrix operations using optical elements. Speed comes from the fact that our light sources and detectors are fast, operating at speeds of up to 100GHz. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Matthew Keys talks to reporters after he was sentenced in April 2016 to two years in prison, surrounded by his lawyers, including Mark Jaffe (far left). (credit: Cyrus Farivar) SAN FRANCISCO—Defense attorneys forcefully argued Tuesday before the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals that their client—a journalist convicted under an anti-hacking law last year—did not actually damage a media website that was briefly altered. So, the lawyers say, while their client, Matthew Keys, did access internal material at the Tribune Media Company without permission, he should not be convicted of two counts of "intentionally [causing] damage" as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act outlines. "Essentially, what's happened here is the government charged unauthorized damage, and it spent most of its time putting on an unauthorized access case," Tor Ekeland, one of Keys' lawyers, said during the hearing before a panel of three judges. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
(credit: Microsoft) On Tuesday, Microsoft took the highly unusual step of issuing security patches for XP and other unsupported versions of Windows. The company did this in a bid to protect the OSs against a series of "destructive" exploits developed by, and later stolen from, the National Security Agency. By Ars count, Tuesday is only the third time in Microsoft history that the company has issued free security updates for a decommissioned product. One of those came one day after last month's outbreak of the highly virulent "WCry" ransom worm, which repurposed NSA-developed exploits. The exploits were leaked by the Shadow Brokers, a mysterious group that somehow got hold of weaponized NSA hacking tools. (WCry is also known as "WannaCry" and "WannaCrypt.") Tuesday's updates, this updated Microsoft post shows, include fixes for three other exploits that were also released by the Shadow Brokers. A Microsoft blog post announcing the move said the patches were prompted by an "elevated risk of destructive cyberattacks" by government organizations. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / An emergency medical drone coming to the rescue. (credit: JAMA) Thanks to drones, condoms have rained down on villages in rural Africa. Remote islands have quickly received medical supplies, while researchers have winged biological specimens to distant pathology labs. Now, a research group in Sweden is buzzing about yet another type of life-saving flight for the unmanned aerial vehicles—emergency medical flights. Reenacting 18 real-life emergency calls of cardiac arrest to emergency medical services in Norrtälje, Sweden, researchers dispatched a drone carrying an automated external defibrillator (AED) from the local fire station. The drone reached the site of the emergency in around five minutes—about 16 minutes faster than emergency medical responders—researchers report Tuesday in JAMA. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Tufts University Among the hundreds of scientific tests happening on the International Space Station, only one has yielded a result worthy of a B-movie starring Ice Cube. It turns out that flatworms undergo an odd and as-yet-unexplained transformation in space. When profoundly injured, they grow a second head. Scientists who study tissue regeneration have long been fascinated by flatworms because of the worms' ability to regrow after being cut in half. The worms can even regrow heads. But as Tufts University biology researcher Junji Morokuma and his colleagues explain in a paper for the journal Regeneration, they have never seen a worm grow two heads after amputation. But that's just what happened when an amputated flatworm was sent to the ISS back in January 2015. Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Image Source) A federal appeals court today struck down price caps on intrastate phone calls made by prisoners. Inmates will thus have to continue paying high prices to make phone calls to family members, friends, and lawyers. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit sided with prison phone company Global Tel*Link in its lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission. But that's exactly what the FCC's current leadership wanted. The FCC imposed the prison phone rate caps during the Obama administration, but current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai instructed commission lawyers to drop their court defense of the intrastate caps. Today's court decision, a 2-1 vote by a three-judge panel, said that the FCC's proposed caps on intrastate rates exceed the commission's statutory authority under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Intrastate calls are those in which both parties are in the same state; judges noted that the FCC is generally forbidden from regulating intrastate communication services, which is left to individual states. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our partners at TechBargains, we're back with a number of new deals ahead of Father's Day this weekend. Today, you can get a fully loaded Dell XPS 13 laptop—featuring a Core i7 processor, a 13-inch QHD+ touch display, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD—for $1,259.99. That saves you a ton off the list price of $1,800. If dad needs a new laptop, this is a great gift option. Check out the rest of the deals below, too. Featured Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / Uber CEO Travis Kalanick at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin, China last year. (credit: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images) Uber's embattled CEO, Travis Kalanick, told employees today that he will take an indefinite leave of absence. The company's board of directors held a seven-hour meeting on Sunday to discuss the details of an internal investigation led by former Attorney General Eric Holder, now in private practice at Covington & Burling. In addition to the intense scrutiny on Uber's corporate culture, Kalanick has undergone personal tragedy recently. Last month, his mother was killed and his father was seriously injured following a boating accident. "Recent events have brought home for me that people are more important than work and that I need to take some time off of the day-to-day to grieve my mother, whom I buried on Friday, to reflect, to work on myself, and to focus on building out a world-class leadership team,” Kalanick wrote in a company-wide e-mail sent out earlier today, which was also published on Re/code and Techcrunch. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The Google Pixel XL. (credit: Ron Amadeo) The Google Pixel, Google's first totally self-branded phone, launched about eight months ago. Google declared itself a smartphone OEM and jumped into the world of manufacturing, but while the company's software and optimizations have made the phone a critical success, how have the sales numbers been? Unlike just about every hardware manufacturer on Earth, Google doesn't share official sales numbers for the Pixel phones, choosing to bundle the income under Alphabet's "Other Revenues" during earnings reports. We do have one very solid signal for Pixel sales though: the Play Store, which shows install numbers for apps. If there was an app that was exclusive and install-by-default on the Pixel phones, like say, the Pixel Launcher, the install number would basically be the number of sold activated phones. This calculation is complicated by the fact that Google Play doesn't show exact install numbers; it shows installs in "tiers" like "100,000-500,000." So most of the time, we won't have an exact Pixel sales numbers—except when the Pixel Launcher crosses from one download tier to another. So guess what just happened? The Pixel Launcher just crossed into the "1,000,000-5,000,000" install tier (You can see some third-party tracking sites, like AppBrain, still have it listed at 500,000). So for this one moment in history, eight months after launch, we can say Google finally sold a million Pixel phones. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge (credit: Boston Globe via Getty Images) It was just last week when Press Secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump's tweets should be viewed as the president's official position. "The president is president of the United States, so they are considered official statements by the president of the United States," he said. That statement has prompted fresh debate about whether the president may lawfully delete tweets as he has been doing and as he did May 31 with his infamous tweet that used the word "covfefe." Spicer insisted that was not a typo but instead was a word known to "a small group of people." Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Mario Odyssey, the first 3D Mario game to hit Nintendo Switch, will be released on October 27, Nintendo announced today. Nintendo also unveiled a new Yoshi game simply titled Yoshi, a new four-player co-op Kirby game, and a port of the super-popular multiplayer game Rocket League. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Xbox head Phil Spencer talks to Ars about the Xbox One X. Video shot/edited by Andrew Falleroni. (video link) Usually, when a gaming company releases a new console, it expects customers to quickly start clamoring for the latest and greatest and start ignoring its aging predecessor. With the November 7 launch of the $499 Xbox One X, though, Microsoft's Head of Xbox Phil Spencer says he doesn't expect the old, $249 Xbox One S to decline in popularity any time soon. "[Xbox One] S will be the console that most people will buy," Spencer told Ars at an interview before the E3 trade show. "Obviously we don't know [the ratio]. When we designed [the One X], it's not that we expected it to become the number one console from us... Xbox One S is a great console for the everyday gamer, someone who's just looking to play games." Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
LOS ANGELES—During a livestreamed presentation Tuesday morning, Nintendo announced a "core Pokemon RPG" title, as well as an in-development sequel to the Metroid Prime series, both for Nintendo Switch. The Game Freak-developed Pokemon RPG "may not release for more than a year, but we hope you look forward to it all the same," Pokemon Company's Tsuenkazu Ishihara said on the stream. "What kind of Pokemon game will we be able to play on Nintendo Switch? I'm looking forward to trying it myself," Nintendo's Shinya Takahashi added. No further information was offered. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
(credit: David Ramos/Bloomberg via Getty Images) Verizon today said it has completed its $4.48 billion acquisition of Yahoo's operating business and formed a new subsidiary called "Oath" that includes both Yahoo and AOL. Oath is "a diverse house of more than 50 media and technology brands that engages more than a billion people around the world," Verizon's announcement said. (Yahoo alone has previously said it already had more than 1 billion monthly users.) Advertising is key to Verizon's plans for Oath. Since Verizon is a home Internet provider and the largest wireless carrier in the US, its access to Internet subscribers' browsing histories could help boost the Yahoo/AOL advertising business. The Republican-led Congress and President Donald Trump recently wiped out rules that would have made it harder for ISPs to use their customers' browsing history to serve personalized advertising. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 12 days ago on ars technica
Enlarge / The original Pixel was made by HTC and looked a lot like an LG phone, so maybe the Pixel 2 will look like this LG G6? Google's official bug tracker seems to have spilled the beans on the manufacturer of the next Pixel phone (or at least, one of the next Pixel phones). A post—which was first spotted by 9to5Google—indicates that the lucky manufacturer is none other than LG. When we last checked in with Google Pixel 2 rumors, there were going to be three devices, all with the usual fish-themed code names of "Walleye," "Muskie," and "Taimen." Walleye was pegged as the smaller Pixel successor, Muskie was the Pixel XL 2, and Taimen was rumored to be something even bigger than the XL. A report just yesterday from Android Police claims the XL successor, "Muskie," is cancelled, and that Taimen, previously pegged an "XXL" device, will be handling the big phone duties. The extra-large size is probably a reference to the screen size and not the body size, as slimmer bezels mean OEMs can squeeze ever-larger screens into the same size phone bodies. It's "Taimen" that was leaked in this bug report. An LG employee is discussing a device's USB-PD compliance and is told by a Google employee to reopen the bug under "Android > Partner > External > LGE > Taimen > power." There's our "Taimen" codename, right in the directory structure, and in addition to the filing employee being from LG, the directory structure shows "LGE," which is short for "LG Electronics." It's not clear if this means both phones or just Taimen is being made by LG. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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